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21st Feb 2017

Incredible insight into French rugby nutrition is a scary eye-opener for the wrong reasons

What the...

Conan Doherty

Chris Farrell looked after himself.

Munster wouldn’t have come calling if he didn’t. His reputation wouldn’t have grown like it has if he had fallen into some of the pitfalls that come with playing rugby in France.

Increasingly, the French national side have been criticised for their lack of mobility, some have even commented on the shape of some of the players representing the country. It’s a problem that runs deeper. It’s a culture that’s difficult to shake and Belfast-born Farrell has experienced it all first hand.

Not that he was too keen to just get involved fully in that way of life in Grenoble, who he joined from Ulster back in 2014.

“I guess a lot of conditioning in the French rugby teams lies on the individual themselves,” the 23-year-old told SportsJOE’s Hard Yards rugby podcast.

“I think there’s a lack of discipline within a lot of clubs and players themselves have got to take control there.

“I know myself I’ve had to take control of my own conditioning and my own diet. We have nutritionists and all that but we don’t see an awful lot of them and I guess there’s a bit of leeway for players to do what they want.”

It’s obvious that Farrell has taken control and he’s done it well.

It’s not easy though when you’re living in that country, on the foothills of some of the most striking mountains in the world. It’s a different way of life.

And the post-match meals and days off reflect just that.

“If the French do one thing, they do post-match receptions very well,” Farrell, who will join Munster this summer, revealed.

“You’d walk into a huge tent or a huge hall and there are lights flashing and there’s always wine and cheese. It’s always there – it’s widely available.

“In the Alps, we have a lot of real comfort foods. I’d go up on a Sunday and sit by the ski fields and just watch the world go by. You’d see bucket-loads of cheese fondue and Raclette come and there’d be all sorts of dry meat and people dipping it into buckets of cheese.”

On the same podcast, current Ireland international, Mike Ross, quipped that offering leeway like they have in France isn’t always a good idea.

“It depends on the individual – probably not for props,” Ross laughed.

“I’d say fighting against their natural tendencies can be quite difficult.”

But then you have props like Cian Healy who have it just right. The Irish legend’s social media accounts are a hive of mouthwatering activity. Meat, meat, and more glorious meat. All home-cooked. All dripping with delicious protein.

He has his recovery, his pre-match and his bulking down to a tee and it is a wondrous sight.

You can’t argue with the results.

In the Top 14, you can argue all you want though. Just ask Chris Farrell.

Listen to the full fascinating interview (from 28:53) below.

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