Hogtown’s newest sports team, the Toronto Wolfpack, have racked up some serious frequent flyer miles. The rugby players might not travel as frequently as the Blue Jays or the Raptors, but when they do travel, it’s usually across the Atlantic. Playing in the British Rugby Football League—yes you read that right, our local team plays in a U.K. league—makes the team red-eye regulars. This takes a toll on their bodies before they’ve even taken to the pitch to make a tackle.
Pre-game: It’s all about sleep
The Wolfpack’s Andrew Dixon says it’s imperative to “get on the new time zone as quickly you can.” It’s the 220-pound second row’s third year playing for Toronto, and every season it becomes easier for him to acclimatize when time zone hopping. When he lands here, he and his teammates will often hit the Cooper Koo Family YMCA pool for a swim to loosen up and relax before what he calls “the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have.”
Post-game: First pizza, then protein shakes
After a grueling 80-minute game of rugby, the Wolfpack will lap the field giving high fives to fans. Then, in the change room, some of the boys will inhale pizza, but Dixon says that the Toronto heat can temper his appetite. “You can feel quite sick after, and I sometimes struggle to eat,” he says. He tries to rehydrate quickly with an electrolyte-packed drink like BioSteel, and then he’ll sip a MyProtein shake to restore his energy. (He always eats something carb heavy later on.)
Immediately after a game, though, the adrenaline keeps pumping well into the evening, making it hard to unwind. “If we’ve had a good win, sometimes we stay in the apartment and chill out. Being away together all the time you end up being best mates,” before adding that a beer (if the coach has allowed them a brewski or two) combined with some Fortnite is the best medicine when it comes to letting go of the game and leaning into relaxation.
Then ice baths, and a holistic healing clinic
Depending on how his muscles are feeling, Dixon will sometimes jump into an ice bath after a tough game. If he really feels the need to flush the lactic acid from his muscles, he’ll also hit up Toronto-based Zen & Tonic, where he says the leg compression air massager coupled with the zero-gravity chair is helps his limbs feel spry again.
In-between matches: foam rolling, yoga, and the beach
According to Dixon, and, well, basic logic, “the body really tightens up after a game of rugby.” Although the rugby league player’s more of a foam roller than a stretching zealot, he does enjoy the occasional yoga class. But his go-to antidote to taut muscles is a beach day. He and the lads will head over to Woodbine, go for a dip in Lake Ontario and then enjoy a few rounds of volleyball.