The Munster squad have started their seventh week of remote training with Dr Emma Tester, Lead Performance Nutritionist, provides the latest update.
“What has happened over the last couple of weeks and months is that players have had to adapt to a completely different routine. It has been about providing as much information as we can but without overwhelming them as it’s a very overwhelming time.
“The players, and it’s not exclusive to Munster, in general professional athletes will normally spend time eating out and about but that’s not an option now. So they have to upskill and get better in the kitchen and get better at knowing what to put in the pan to get what they need on the plate.
“What we’ve provided them with is basic things like shopping lists and recipes, as well as individualised and sports-specific recommended nutritional intakes. There are lots of different changes as we go through the different phases of this period but because it’s a very unpredictable time frame, we have to be really responsive to that and at a basic level, that is just providing as much support as we can.”
Tester, who joined Munster Rugby in November 2016, spoke to IrishRugby.ie about the challenges posed from a nutrition point of view.
It is a real team effort from a staff point of view as the Coaching and Management team, Athletic Performance department and Medical staff work together to ensure the squad stay in the best possible shape.
“It really is a huge collective effort. We’re working really hard together to ensure the players are coming back in good shape and robust and ready to train. It’s not just a session on a Watt bike and lifting weights in their garden, but also all the other aspects around performance like nutrition and rehab.
“Everyone has tried to see this as an opportunity to be better and come back in the best condition possible and it’s our job to support them so they’re ready and raring to go whenever it is safe to do so.”
Last week, Emma represented the IRFU’s team of Performance Nutritionists by presenting to a global audience of nutrition and sports science professionals during an innovative webinar.
The ‘Online Sports Nutrition Conference For Covid’ heard from 13 different high performance nutritionists working across a range of sports and provided insight into leading performance nutrition research and practice.
Emma presented on the topic of ‘The Impact of Dietary Intake on Immune Function’.
“What I really wanted to focus on was the current climate and the impacts on an athlete’s immune system,” Emma told IrishRugby.ie. “It’s not just the change of training and sporting demands that they’ve had to adapt to but also the change of environment and behavioural practices, all of which hugely impact the immune system.”
She was reassured to hear the knowledge and expertise of the IRFU’s team of Performance Nutritionists, and the support and strategies in place within Irish Rugby, are aligned with international best practice.
“It was quite a reassuring day for us as a team of nutritionists working around the country. We work very much as a team, even if we are in our day-to-day roles with the provinces or international squads, and it’s all about doing our best for the greater good of Irish Rugby, particularly at a time like this.
“Because there is so much uncertainty around the future, we are all facing huge challenges. We don’t know when we’re going to return to training or return to competition so we don’t know when the players will need to peak and taper, whether it’s from an athletic performance or nutrition point of view.”