sport news Wasps head chef Gaurav Abbi reveals the secrets of feeding a Premiership rugby ...

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With the Rugby World Cup final less than 24 hours away, Wasps head chef Gaurav Abbi has provided fans with a fascinating insight into the nutrition behind a entire rugby team.

At their peak, a Premiership rugby side can resemble a well-oiled steamroller, ploughing through defensive lines with packs weighing almost a tonne.

Domineering props and strapping backs can often burn up to 5,000 calories a day during the heat of battle.

And at Wasps, the task of fuelling their engines belongs to head chef Gaurav Abbi.

Wasps head chef Gaurav Abbi is responsible for fuelling Dai Young's Premiership rugby stars

Wasps head chef Gaurav Abbi is responsible for fuelling Dai Young's Premiership rugby stars 

The 37-year-old welcomed Sportsmail to what he called his 'little fort' at Wasps training centre

The 37-year-old welcomed Sportsmail to what he called his 'little fort' at Wasps training centre 

Abbi has worked with Wasps for six seasons and moved with the club from London to Coventry

Abbi has worked with Wasps for six seasons and moved with the club from London to Coventry

HOW TO FEED A PREMIERSHIP TEAM 

Breakfast

240 eggs (+ extra boiled eggs)

80-90 poached eggs

2-3kg kippers

3-4kg smoked salmon

12-15kg spinach

Lunch  

40kg Minced/diced meat

50kg chicken legs

45kg vegetables/salad

20kg fish

10kg (uncooked) pasta

The 37-year-old welcomed Sportsmail to what he called his 'little fort', tucked away on the far side of the Ivor Preece Centre - Wasps' training ground - on the outskirts of Coventry.

In here, Abbi weaves his magic.

His kitchen is not overly large, but the scale of the task at hand is immediately evident.

'Our week is four days,' says Abbi. 'So in four days I can go through easily 150kg meat wise, - if it's a minced or diced. If it's chicken legs then we are looking at 50kg in a day.

'And then the vegetables and the legume salads comes down to around 45kg every day, in some shape or form. Then you have 10-12kg of fish for lunch, and again that balance changes as summer comes, the fish balance will go up.'

Feeding 60 professional athletes twice a day in a sport that is defined by its emphasis on power and strength is certainly not a pint-sized operation.

On the cooker, Abbi ponders over what looks like an aromatic witch's cauldron.

'It is pretty much that,' he smiles, taking a moment to taste the Italian herb-coated sauce bubbling away inside the cavernous metal pot. 'Every time I look at it, I wonder, will it produce enough? But it magically does every time. At full capacity it can hold 100kg. Today, there is around 40kg of meat in there!'

On any given day the Wasps squad can see through 45kg of vegetables and 40kg of meat

On any given day the Wasps squad can see through 45kg of vegetables and 40kg of meat

For breakfast, Abbi uses more than 240 eggs, up to 15kg of spinach and 3kg of kippers

For breakfast, Abbi uses more than 240 eggs, up to 15kg of spinach and 3kg of kippers  

Braised pork ragu is on the menu for lunch, once Dai Young is finished putting his players through their paces ahead of a crunch clash.

For Abbi, though, the day starts hours before the players even enter the building.

He rises at 3am, spending some time to plan the day ahead, before heading into work to prepare breakfast for the full squad, the coaching staff and academy players.

Preparation is everything. A slow-cooked ragu has been smouldering since 5am, but it was planned days in advance.

There are different meals for different times of the day and the week, all revolving around the players' schedules. After an intense session, the focus is on recovery, with ginger, turmeric and cumin key 'anti-inflammatory' ingredients. Before a match and training sessions, it's all about keeping energy levels topped up, with whole wheat and whole grain foods that release energy slowly - like brown rice and brown pasta - all preferred.

Different foods are used on different days to ensure that the squad can perform at their best

Different foods are used on different days to ensure that the squad can perform at their best

Braised pork ragu was on the menu along with a choice of pasta, veg, fish and chicken legs

Braised pork ragu was on the menu along with a choice of pasta, veg, fish and chicken legs

'We're building glycogen levels in your muscles,' explains Abbi. 'The glycogen levels are the stores that give you power. You have to keep them topped up to 100 per cent. It's like your phone battery, you keep charging it, you keep it at 100 per cent, if it's 70 per cent, you add 30 per cent, your topping up every time.'

Puddings and sugary snacks that offer an instant hit of energy followed by a slump, are rarely on the menu. But he insists nothing is banned - including junk food.

'It's not bad,' says Abbi. 'Can you imagine, they burn enormous amounts of energy every time they're out. They might eat more than normal but that's what they need, so even the odd KFC won't do them anymore harm – unless they're having a bucket a night! Which we don't suggest.'

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