From perfecting pizza dough to fermenting tea, rugby players in Europe have found various ways to pass their time during the lockdown forced on them by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia international Scott Higginbotham, who plays for Bordeaux-Begles, has been busy in his kitchen during the confinement period, which started in France on March 17.
“My wife and I take turns in going out, and doing a bit of exercise and a lot of cooking. Every meal is made from scratch,” Higginbotham told reporters last week. “I made my own pizza dough the other day, which was quite nice. I do love pizza, so that was a big one for me going forward.”
New Zealand-born Dean Budd plays for Treviso in northern Italy, where people have been confined to their homes.
The French Top 14 and the Pro14, which Budd’s Treviso compete in, are both postponed without a restart date.
“I’ve made some nice pickled eggplant — that is my go-to. I tried to make some fermented hot sauce, but that failed,” Budd said. “I’m brewing kombucha, so that keeps me busy as well. The problem with fermentation is time, so I’m wanting to taste them and staring at them, wanting them to go faster because I’ve got nothing else to do.”
Second-row Budd, who has 29 caps for SSC Napoli, lives in an apartment with partner and lifestyle blogger Amelia Rogers, and said that keeping fit has been difficult.
“There’s only a certain access to things and only so much you can do with your creative mind by lifting tables, hanging off tables and running up and down stairs. It’s very challenging to stay active,” he added.
Budd’s Italy teammate Maxime Mbanda has become a volunteer ambulance driver in the city of Parma during the outbreak.
“He’s always been a real team man, always put his body on the line, but now he’s putting it on the line for other reasons,” Budd said. “What Max has done is awesome and symbolizes what a rugby player is about: Giving to the greater good.”
For Racing 92 coach Mike Prendergast in Paris, the task of keeping in touch with work is different.
“It’s a tricky one because there is no day-to-day training or games to analyze. What I’ve been doing is working off my laptop, looking at our games throughout the year, little areas we can get better at,” he said. “There’s not much more you can do as coaches. You can’t even plan ahead because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
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