In the course of the lockdown, the IRFU’s Performance Nutrition team investigated how best to serve players on the Elite Path, and particularly in the National Talent Squad (NTS) program.
An online nutrition course has been developed to help these players gain the knowledge that supports performance, immunity and an all around healthy understanding of nutrition.
The NTS program run by the IRFU and sponsored by PwC supports between 60 and 70 players between the ages of 15 and 20 each year. Diet, along with rugby skills and athletic performance, is one of the cornerstone disciplines offered to these players.
NTS players receive nutritional support from an NTS Performance Nutritionist who works in their respective provinces. These performance nutritionists guide the training of these players both academically and practically to improve players’ understanding of nutritional basics, eating habits, and impacts on athletic development and performance.
A national nutrition curriculum has been created and adapted for each age cohort in the program. This content is now available to NTS players in the form of an e-learning course.
The e-learning course contains a number of interactive modules tailored to each year of the NTS program, supported by 62 informational videos. Players will complete the course via the IRFU’s Gainline e-learning platform.
The three levels of the course are Nutritional basics (NTS 3 – 15-17 years), Nutritional development (NTS 2 – 17-19 years) and Nutritional performance (NTS 1 – 19-20 years). Players will complete these modules on their way through the path.
The comprehensive curriculum includes the following areas: a balanced approach to nutrition, energy and exercise requirements, fluid intake, nutrition on game day, recreational nutrition, development of body composition, immunity and individual meal planning.
Gary Sweeney, IRFU National Talent Development Pathway Performance Nutritionist, said,
“This resource will add to the service NTS players receive from their Performance Nutritionists in the province. The comprehensive course content clearly shows how a proactive and knowledgeable approach to nutrition optimizes performance. “
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