Donncha O’Callaghan On How Good Younger Players Have It These Days

Rugby has come a long way since it turned professional in the late nineties.

There was no nutritionists, no state-of-the-art facilities and heart monitors. It was just a bunch of lads who put on a jersey every week and left everything on the pitch.

Donncha O’Callaghan is one of the few players at 38 years of age to have played in the old and new era of rugby. Speaking on Off The Ball’s road show at Mansion House last night the colourful lock forward touched on being the old man in the group, leading to some hilarious comments on how nutrition has changed.

The former Munster man explains how the younger generation should count themselves lucky when it comes to lunchtime, compared to what he had to deal with back in the day.

You go into our setup and the facility is incredible. The portion of players per physio is through the roof. Player welfare is through the roof. And everything’s really done for guys.
But that becomes the norm, and for an 18-year-old who’s never seen anything any different, sometimes they can think that’s really bad.
The best example I can give of it is, we used to travel Cork and Limerick up and down the road, and you’d bring your lunch in tupperware. You’d be eating it out of the boot of your car or wherever it was, or however you could get it in.

But over in Worcester our meals are measured out exactly for your workload that day. So: ‘Joe, you covered 5k in a session, you’re taking 70 grams of carbohydrate. Donncha, you did nothin’ so you’re having salad.’
But then you’ve guys so well looked after. Sitting around the table you hear, ‘Jesus, the chicken is a bit spicy today’, and you’re like, ‘oh you lucky f—‘. You know what I mean?
‘You don’t know what it’s like to be eating cold lasagne out of the boot of a car…trying to hide from John Hayes!

What a character. Times really have changed.

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Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor at RugbyLAD. Any queries big or small you can reach him at [email protected]

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