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Rachael Burford

Thurrock & England rugby player Rachael Burford tells Muscle Food exactly what it takes to be a professional female rugby player and how she couldn’t live without peanut butter!

Rachael Burford

Some would say Rachael was born to be a rugby star. With her mother, father and siblings all playing for Medway RFC Rachael grew up playing with a rugby ball and attending the rugby ground, before she took to the field herself at just 6 years old.

Rachael went on to play for Medway RFC youth team, before quickly working her way up the ranks to the first team. With an obvious talent for the game, Rachael was advised to join RFUW Rugby Academy in Bath which was to be the start of a tough but successful journey.

Rachael’s talent and dedication to training was to pay off, and at just 19 Rachael was selected to play for England’s Women’s World Cup Squadmaking her the youngest player on the team. Since then Rachael has gone on to play in three 15’s World Cups and two 7’s World Cups. And she now holds an impressive 56 caps for England.

As well as being part of a successful international team, Rachael has played for North London’s Saracens before moving on to the west of the capital to play for Richmond RFC before finally ending up with her current club Thurrock RFC.

Rachael Burford

Rachael’s obvious talent has not gone unnoticed and she has recently been awarded the RPA Sunday Times player of the year 2013-2014 and in May 2014 was awarded the Rugby Players’ Association England women’s player of the year award. Although the highlight of Rachael’s career has to be being part of the winning squad which triumphed over Canada in July 2014’s World Cup.

We speak to Rachael about what her day to day schedule looks like, what it takes to be part of a professional rugby team and most importantly what her favourite cheat meal is!

Thanks for your time Rachael, we know you are a busy lady. So let’s start with the basics...

Training Plan

I change up my program every 8 weeks and this could be something simple like different muscles groups different days, switching from barbell to dumb bells or a totally new program. This keeps me motivated and keeps the body guessing. At the moment my plan is:


  • Recovery session
  • Weights session
  • Rugby session


  • Weights
  • Skills
  • Rugby
  • Fitness games


  • Rest day


  • Prehab
  • Weights
  • Rugby
  • Fitness


  • S & C
  • Rugby


  • Rest Day

Sunday: Rest

  • Game Day

Meal Plan

A detailed example of your weekly meal plan.:

Interview with Rachael Burford

When did you start playing rugby and why?

I started rugby when I was 6 years old, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen a rugby ball or been on a rugby pitch as I had been attending Medway RFC since I was born! My mother, father, sister and brother all played for Medway RFC.

What does a typical day at the gym/training look like?

My gym sessions always start with some mobility and movement, getting my body physically ready for my session. A heavy day will involve 4 sessions, my morning session will consist first with weights followed by a rugby skills session, I would then have a break (lunch) the afternoon session would be rugby and fitness session.

What does a typical days meal plan look like?

Liam Higgins
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day; if I have a heavy training day I ensure that I have eggs and a big bowl of porridge to keep me fuelled throughout my morning session. Lunch will consist of protein, carbohydrates an example would be sweet potato and chicken, dinner will be similar having protein such as salmon or turkey with fresh vegetables as my carbohydrate source. I’ll snack on yoghurt, milk, nuts and berries throughout the day if I’m hungry. Before bed I will often have a casein supplement to ensure I am refuelling whilst I’m sleeping. I drink a lot of water throughout the day, I also drink a lot of tea - English, peppermint and green tea. I try to limit my caffeine intake to 2 coffees a day.

One food you couldn’t live without?

It has to peanut butter

Favourite Muscle Food product?


Do you have cheat meals? If so tell us a typical meal.

Homemade traditional foods like lasagne or sausage and mash, and of course a traditional pudding such as sticky toffee pudding!

Do you use any supplements? If so which ones.

I’ve always used Maximuscle products, mainly promax post-training to ensure I get enough protein in after my training sessions.

How do you prepare for a match?

Rachael Burford

I make sure I’m well prepped for my game, my morning will start with a good breakfast which is normally scrambled eggs and porridge to make sure I am fuelling my body ready for the game. About 2 hours before kick off I perform some physical prep, which includes some movement patterns and stretching, I will also do some injury prevention work (prehab) and I drink a lot of water throughout the morning as it is is really important to stay hydrated to maximise my performance.

How do you stay motivated?

Rachael Burford
Setting short term goals keeps me motivated to achieving them, this also keeps me focused. Wanting to always be the best I can be is my ultimate motivation.

How do you like to relax?

Switching off and relaxing is really important to me, it’s the simple things I enjoy, going to a quirky quiet coffee shop and having some time to myself.

What is your most memorable moment on the field?

2014 world cup final, the clock said 78 miniute and at that point I knew we had won the world cup but I still wouldn’t let myself believe until that final whistle went!

Rachael Burford

Your favourite rugby match of all time?

England V Canada 17.08.2014 – World Cup Final. The moment we made history and became World Champions.

Who is your all time hero?

Jonny Wilkinson, his work rate is admirable, he strives for perfection like I’ve never seen any other athlete or pro-rugby player ever do.

Rachael' 3 Top Foods

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Winning the 2014 Rugby World cup.

What’s next/ultimate goal?

Rio 2016 Olympics.