Over the course of the lockdown the IRFU’s Performance Nutrition team has been examining how best to service players on the elite pathway and specifically those in the National Talent Squad (NTS) programme.
An online nutrition course has been developed to assist these pathway players in attaining the knowledge that supports performance, immunity and an all-round healthy understanding of nutrition.
The IRFU run NTS programme, sponsored by PwC, supports between 60-70 players aged between 15-20 each year. Nutrition is one of the cornerstone disciplines delivered to these players alongside rugby skills and athletic performance.
NTS players receive nutrition support via a NTS Performance Nutritionist who operates out of their respective provinces. These performance nutritionists lead the education of these players both academically and practically to help guide players’ understanding of nutrition fundamentals, food choices and impact on athletic development and performance.
A national nutrition curriculum has been devised and tailored for each age cohort in the programme and this content is now available to NTS players in the form of an E-Learning course.
The E-learning course contains a series of interactive modules tailored for each year of the NTS programme supported by 62 informational videos. The players will complete the course via the IRFU’s Gainline E-Learning platform.
The three levels of the course are Nutrition Fundamentals (NTS 3 – 15-17 year olds), Nutrition Development (NTS 2 – 17-19 year olds) and Nutrition Performance (NTS 1 – 19-20 year olds). The players will complete these modules as they progress through the pathway.
The comprehensive course curriculum covers areas ranging from – a balanced dietary approach, energy needs and exercise demands, fluid intake, game day nutrition, recovery nutrition, body composition development, immunity and individualized meal planning.
Gary Sweeney, IRFU National Talent Development Pathway Performance Nutritionist, said,
“This resource will augment the service NTS players are receiving from their provincial Performance Nutritionists. The comprehensive course content clearly illustrates how a proactive and knowledgeable approach to nutrition optimises performance.”