Inside The Super Rugby Camp: Sunday Is All About Recovery

After a tough game, your body needs rest. Sunday is all about recovery

Words by Thomas Okes | Photographs by Paul Samuels |

For pro rugby players, Sunday morning can feel like waking up after being in several car crashes. What’s more, they have to be ready to rumble again in six days. The day after a game, banged-up players start treatment, while the rest of the guys begin their recovery routine. For Bulls utility back Jesse Kriel, that routine starts with what he eats. “After a game I usually grab some protein, whether it’s in the form of a shake or good, old-fashioned healthy food,” he says.

“Breakfast should be rich in quality energy (fruit and wholegrains) with decent protein (yoghurt, lean meat and eggs) and fluids.”
– Adrian Penzhorn

Rugby nutrition consultant Adrian Penzhorn approves. “Recovery should start as close to the final whistle as possible,” he says. “The day after a game, he should prioritise protein. A Sunday diet should be high in protein with plenty of veg and a moderate amount of carbs, and include some good quality fats to help recovery.” With such a small window between games, Penzhorn says players should be focused on two things: recover, then refuel. Eating too little will scupper the first, while too much may derail the second. “Without proper nutrition, players can increase their risk of injury, struggle with fatigue, and limit the benefit of their training.” And keep pumping that protein throughout the week: “A protein-based snack first thing in the morning and last thing before bed will keep the recovery system turning while you sleep.”

Liquidise Your Assets 

The more water I keep in my fridge, the more I tend to drink. – Jesse Kriel

“Water is critical to recovery,” says Penzhorn. “The body will lose fluids while it tries to maintain body heat, and players will need to replace them as soon as possible.” Suffer minor dehydration and your performance sinks. Rugby players are weighed before and after practice to determine their sweat rates and hydration plans. Use the urine test: the lighter the colour, the better. Iced tea is trouble; lemonade is sweet.

Eat to beat inflammation

Jennifer Brunelli, dietician says to eat food that fights inflammation

Spinach, salmon, walnuts, tart cherries and olive oil are all good foods to fight inflammation.

Click on each link for a detailed description of what the Super Rugby athletes do to recover and prepare mentally and physically, on each day of the week.


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