Rugby Club Catering: How to feed large numbers

A daunting task for any rugby club is working out how to feed rugby players after their matches at a weekend and working out where to start with preparation?

The key to feeding a large number of rugby players is to know the number you will be cooking for, know your budget, work out what you’ll cook, how you’ll cook the food and most importantly what your timings will be. It is always best to keep the meals to a simple home comfort food.

An imperative part of game day for a rugby player is the food after the game, to replenish the energy levels which will of been used up during the game. However, with each fixture having twenty or more players on a team, the numbers for catering can increase significantly depending on the number of teams you have playing at home. Although some of your teams maybe playing an away fixture it is highly likely you will be catering for forty people each week. There are important steps you can take to make great food and keep your rugby players happy:

How many people are you cooking for?

Dealing with a budget? 

What equipment do you have to cook? What recipes work?

What are the timings?

Good ideas and bad ideas for cooking in bulk

How Many People are you Cooking for?

The key question when deciding what to cook for a large group is what is the actual number of rugby players you will be cooking for. Most rugby clubs have at lease two teams however, as rugby becomes more popular clubs can manage more teams. It is not unusual for a club to have three teams. Within a team there are 15 players and a maximum of seven subs per team. There is the potential to have to feed 132 people in a couple of hours of each other, if a rugby club has three home sides playing in one weekend.

Therefore your food will need to be able to cater for the large numbers and also not be such a demanding job that you feel stressed about the situation. Before you can buy ingredients you need to decided as a rugy club how much money is spent on food per week. This is key, as it will identify the amount of ingredeints you can afford.

Dealing with a Food Budget?

The treasurer of the club will advise as to how much money you have per week for food or will maybe give you a lump for a season. It is important to look at the fixtures schedule and identify the weeks where you will have a high number of players to feed due to the number of teams playing at home. The weeks with more people will mean more money being spent on food. However, this is counter balanced by the weeks when teams play away from home and less food will have to be cooked.

The easiest way to calculate your budget is to breakdown how much money you have to spend per person, this will be between fifty pence to two pounds and is dependent on the size and finances of each individual rugby club.

For an example, if the rugby club charges £1.00 a head you will have £132 pounds to spend on food. Although £132 sounds like a lot of money you need to ensure there is sufficent food for each person. As if mouths go hungry then you will have some unhappy rugby players.

Quick Tip – to ensure that only rugby players recieve the food, hand out home made tokens or a raffle ticket to the rugby team captains. Each player gets a ticket and has to pass it over in return for a meal. 

What equipment do you have to cook for large numbers?

If you have not been to your rugby club kitchen before make sure you do so before you buy any food to make. The reason for this is perhaps the kitchen only has an oven, which means saucepan recipes such as chili would be out of the question. It’s also important to ensure that you have large saucepans, as there would be nothing worse then having to cook bulk meals in numerous pans. If the rugby club does not have one big kitchen pot then I would strongly recommend that the club investing £15 in an 11L saucepan as this will make bulk cooking much easier.

I’m sure everyone has there go to recipes which they love to cook, but cooking on bulk needs simple recipes and we have broken recipes down dependent on the equipment you have in the kitchen:

One pot

  • Chilli
  • Spag bol
  • Curry
  • Ratouille
  • Barbeque


  • Fish and chips
  • Pizza
  • Susage and Chips

No Cooking Equipment

  • Sandwhichs
  • Takeaway*

*You may look at takeaway and go that is not a viable option however, if the rugby club does not have a kitchen then you may look at a sponsorship deal in order to supply food. Prehaps you will put the local fish and chip shop on your rugby kit as a sponsor in return for food being supplied to the players.

What are the Timings for Food?

Timings for food are a crucial element of how successful after game food is received by the players. Cook the food to early and players will complain it is cold, cook the food too late and players will moan that they are waiting too long. Rugby games vary with time, for instance the kick off times will be as follows for a majority of amateur games across the country dependent on the month:

MonthKick Off Time

The fixtures secretary of the club will confirm the match times each week however, the rule of thumb is when the clock changes take effect the times of kick offs do as well.

It’s important to know your cooking times and how a rugby match plays out in order to prepare food in advance. For example, a game that kicked off at 3pm would last 80 minutes, 10 minutes for half time and handshakes at the end. Then there would be 30 minutes -40 minutes for the players to get showered and changed. Therefore, food would need to be ready by from 5pm onward. Make sure you are included in the fixtures secretaries email circulation and you won’t be able to go wrong.

Good Ideas and Bad Ideas for Bulk Cooking?

There are a number of good and bad ideas which may help you on bulk cooking.

Good Ideas

  1. It’s good to have extras if your budget allows for this. For instance grated cheese to go with a chilli or spaghetti bolagnese is an excellent way to please the rugby players.
  2. Bread is a cheap side order to have and ensure that you have loaves of bread to hand.  Players would happily have two slices of bread and butter with their meals.
  3. Base your cooking around special offers. There could be a special on potatoes which means you may have a few weeks of jacket potatoes. If you are particularly tight on funds, some foods have a voucher inside for a free product. Dr Oetker pizza had a free pizza voucher in the box recently, every time I would go near a shop I would get a free pizza with a voucher for another free pizza.
  4. Use a ladle or a cup to give equal measures of food to each player.
  5. Ensure you have condiments.
  6. Make sure you are up to speed with your food hygiene regulations.

Bad Ideas

  1. Having a buffet for rugby food is not a good idea, in fact it would disastourous. Individuals don’t have self control and there will be people who will go hungry.
  2. Ensure that your club has a ticketing system to get food otherwise it can be a free for all and you will not have enough food for players.
  3. Don’t be upset by critiscim, everyone is a critic and you can’t please everyone. Therefore, take any comments with a pinch of salt.
  4. Keep to home comfort foods which a majority of players will like.

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