Emma Gardner, Head of Nutrition at the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), is celebrating success following the conclusion of this years' Six Nations Championship. In her first season in the role, Emma, a SENR Practitioner Registrant, has overseen the performance nutrition service to Triple Crown and Grand Slam winning Senior and U20 Men's squads. Following a weekend when both sides delivered victories against England in the final matches of their respective tournaments, we spoke briefly with Emma to learn more about her role...
Alan Kennedy (AK): Congratulations Emma on this fantastic success for you and your team at the IRFU!
Emma Gardner (EG): Thanks Alan, it's been a great weekend for Irish Rugby!
AK: Tell us about your progression to this role and the work you do with your team of staff and players.
EG: I joined the IRFU in October 2022 as Head of Nutrition, having spent the previous 5 years at England Cricket as Lead Performance Nutritionist, and the last 10 years at the English Institute of Sport as a Senior Performance Nutritionist. My current role at the IRFU involves leading a team of 11 nutritionists across the system (Provincial and National team nutritionists), as well as being Performance Nutritionist for the Senior Men’s team.
AK: Within this role, what are the short-term and longer-term goals?
EG: Short term goals are mainly supporting the men's team in their recent Six Nations campaign and preparing the team for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, which will be in France later this year. Longer term aims are to continue to develop Performance Nutrition within the wider Irish system - one aim is to ensure all practitioners within our system are SENR registered to quality assure our practice. This is something all the team are currently working through, in fact.
AK: That's great to hear Emma. Could you explain the value of SENR membership to you and your team of nutritionists?
EG: I’ve been a member of SENR for over 10 years. The SENR is now widely recognised as a quality assurance programme which is important for the sports and athletes we service. It’s also extremely valuable to be part of a network of professionals within our field who you can reach out to for guidance, support and to share ideas within our practice.