Search icon


24th Nov 2016

Chris Robshaw tells JOE about the tedious, grinding routine of an international rugby player

Hard knocks.

Patrick McCarry

Chris Robshaw has been in the English set-up for the past eight seasons but don’t remind him.

Don’t bring up his 30th birthday either. It occurred five months ago but it still feels raw.

“A couple of people have been reminding me about turning 30 today,” he tells us. “I might feel a knock a day longer but as soon as I get on the pitch, I am as hungry as ever.”

At this stage, for a man who made his Test debut a week after he turned 23, Robshaw has been institutionalised. He is part of the furniture around England’s training base at Pennyhill Park and a priceless one at that.

We caught up with the Harlequins flanker to get an insight into the regular week of a Test rugby player. He begins:

“The day after a game is usually set aside for recovery and for catching up with family. It’s a mix of hot and cold for some lads – cryotherapy or stretches and massages. Most guys will have bumps and bruises but anything more serious will get you assessed and spending a bit more time with the physios. There are a couple of short meetings and reviews and massages again for anyone that needs them.

“Mondays are usually learning days – reviews and meetings – but the next big day for taking calories and carbs on is Tuesday. That’s our big defensive day. We do our leg weights too and work on forward drills. It is usually a tough training day so we will treat ourselves to dinner out somewhere.”

Wednesdays are light enough. Some upper body work in the gym and sub-units, under the likes of Paul Gustard and Steve Borthwick, going through footage and tailored reviews, and work-ons.

“It’s a good group of players and we are always looking to improve. What a lot of people don’t see is how hard the guys work during the week. Whether that is working on running lines, handling, lineouts, dummy runs. We are looking to make little improvements in every single session.

“There are a lot of new faces coming in and doing well but you look at the likes of the Vunipolas, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and more. Those guys are picking up some big game experience at home and abroad. They’ve been around the world. You can see the benefits coming through.”

England’s Dylan Hartley with the RBS 6 Nations Trophy and Billy Vunipola 19/3/2016

Set-plays, scrummaging, lineout drills and exit strategies are a big part of Thursdays – team announcement day. The Captain’s Run is as much as players extend themselves the day before games.

A big part of the week, too, is eating right and taking on the appropriate level of fluids. Here, again, Robshaw is a creature of habit.

“My diet hasn’t changed too much over the years. I may have made a few early mistakes when it came to fads or foods I thought were healthy but that has changed a lot. We’ll have a nutritionist in now who can give advice and make suggestions.

“I always have spaghetti bolognese the night before a game. I’ll take on more carbs too. You are trying to load up the night before. I would have a big lunch too – fish or chicken involved – and would be grazing over the course of the day. I’d usually have a protein shake too.

“On the day of the game, I’ll eat frequently but they will be much smaller meals and snacks. Protein is important. You want to have energy to get get you through a game but you don’t want to eat too much or get bloated.”

With all those boxes ticked, the only thing left to do is go out and play the bloody game. A lot of waiting in the wings, and prepping lines for 80 minutes on the biggest of stages.


*Chris Robshaw was speaking on behalf of NatWest and England Rugby at the launch of NatWest RugbyForce 2017. Registrations are now open in England, to find out more or to apply please visit the website here.