Gloucester's Peter Richards and James Simpson-Daniel took time out this week from preparations for this weekend's Churchill Cup final with some hours in the kitchen.
The Churchill Cup hasn't all been about training and playing for some of the England squad on tour in Canada. A special lesson in the kitchen from the team hotel chef on how to cook healthy everyday meals, has proven so popular this week that another serving is planned to educate player palates on Friday.
Darren Drew, who has been chef of the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel for 27 years, gave the likes of James Simpson-Daniel, Mathew Tait and Pete Richards some tasty tips on how to make curries, salad dressings, fish dishes and even the humble omelette.
It was the brainchild of the England nutritionist, Dr Adam Carey, who is on the tour to supervise the squad's daily diets. Nineteen year old Newcastle Falcons back, Mathew Tait, felt it was a useful change away from training for sunday's final of the Churchill Cup against Argentina.
"It was really good and a bit different away from the rugby. Adam is going to write the recipes down for us but I can remember most of it. A lot of the things were easy to carry out. I think I'm quite good at cooking back home but my housemate begs to differ. I do a good fish stew but that's about it, so this will be really helpful."
A lot of the players such as George Chuter, Phil Dowson and Andy Higgins are already interested in cooking, so they jumped at the chance of getting a hands-on session with Carey and the chef. Once they had cooked the meals under supervision, there was the added bonus of being allowed to eat their final efforts. Falcons number eight Phil Dowson plans to use his newly found knowledge to impress clubmate Dave Walder, whom he shares a house with.
"I like cooking but I don't get a chance to do very much because I live with (Newcastle Falcons fly half) Dave Walder and he likes to take the reigns in the kitchen so I think I need to learn a bit more. We did salad dressings with various vinegars and herbs, chicken teriaki from scratch and a green Thai curry which was very nice. It was a really good idea on the morning of a day off training."
Later this year, Carey plans to take some of the England squad into other top kitchens back home, to help them further develop their knowledge of food preparation in all its guises.
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.