Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Rugby warriors tackle cannabinoid concerns with CBD startup

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Rugby warriors tackle cannabinoid concerns with CBD startup

Related tags CBD and Hemp Startup company Sports nutrition

Two professional rugby players have created a startup selling third-party tested CBD supplements that give elite athletes and everyday consumers peace of mind over cannabinoid content

Glasgow Warriors teammates Grayson Hart and Adam Ashe have become the co-founders of Pure Sport CBD, selling a range of CBD products which are BSCG (banned substance controlled group) after discovering the benefits of this ingredient but no way to safely take it.

The journey towards this business began for Hart right when his international rugby career was kicking off, aged 25, after going to the doctor about chronic knee pain and being told he had a degenerative joint disease which was causing the cartilage in his knee to waste away.

"I was told it’s only going to get worse and there’s nothing that can be done - they said you will need a knee replacement by the time you get to 40 and said I should retire from rugby. This was impossible in my mind. Rugby was my life.”

Hart started down a spiralling journey of managing his pain through anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids as he tried to keep up with rigorous training.

“My body was building up such a threshold to the pain killers that I was having to take more and more and I was starting to notice all the side effects – my mood and motivation were plummeting, I felt lethargic and stressed and my sleep was suffering.

“I was trying every natural alternative I could find – turmeric, ginger, ashwagandha, fish oil, collagen – some were good, others didn’t work for me at all. Then

grayson hart
Grayson Hart

I read about a UFC fighter who was singing the praises of CBD.

“I was confused how a pro-athlete could be openly taking a product that came from cannabis until I read that CBD had recently been removed from the world anti-doping list.”

After reading a more case studies from the US he began ordering a range of products from the states and he waited until the end of the rugby season before he began trialling.

“At the start of the next season, I saw the team doctor and told him I had managed to come off pain killers completely, all thanks to this CBD oil and topical product. He told me these weren’t safe to take as they could lead to failed anti-doping tests.

“I refused to believe it and kept saying we must be able to find a product that’s safe, but the answer was ‘no’.”

Angry and determined, Hart went on a search for safe products but found it near impossible to get the lab testing data that he needed from companies. He ended up speaking to a hemp farmer and manufacturer in the US who said he was able to produce CBD extract and test and confirm the THC content down to the finest trace.

“Being completely naive, I said ‘that’s great, can I order enough for 30 bottles!’ and he kind of laughed and told me he’ll need to be making huge quantities in order to set up the production.”

It wasn’t long after that conversation that Hart joined forces with his equally passionate teammate Adam Ashe, who became his co-investor and co-founder.

They launched the business with two BSCG lab tested, 0% THC oils – 1,000mg and 2,000mg – in 2018 with much trepidation.

“We were so aware that marketing these products would be a massive challenge as you can’t advertise them. But, with the products offering that BSCG assurance, the products immediately gained a massive uptake from within the pro athlete community and immediately there was a buzz online with people giving their reviews of the products.”


The company has grown organically to now sell internationally from its online store, with a product portfolio that includes an eight strong range of oils, capsules and balms, plus a three-strong nootropic line offering CBD combined with botanical ingredients named ‘boost’ (Lions Mane, Ginseng & Vitamin C), ‘clarity’ (Ashwagandha, Vitamin D and Ginkgo Biloba), and ‘unwind’ (Valerian Root, Chamomile, Lavender and Vitamin B Complex).

Speaking about the high price point of the products (30ml bottle of oil retailing for £79.99) Hart explains that consumers are re-evaluating what they value and how they want to spend their money, especially after the re-calibration that came with the pandemic and lockdowns.

“People would spend £2.50 on a take-away coffee on their way to work every day and think nothing of it. Our product works out to around £2.50 per day too and our products provide long and short term benefits which are important for overall wellbeing - much better than a hit of caffeine.

“The reviews we’ve gotten from TrustPilot and on social media speak for themselves. The range of consumers and benefits they are getting is so amazing to see. We’re seeing people in their 30's recommending these products to their grandparents who are struggling just to do a bit of gardening and they’re telling us their grandma is now able to get out in the garden every day.”

Unable to advertise, the team has been imaginative in their marketing and they’ve concentrated on providing extra value to the consumer through a running club, which gained 8,000 members within the first few months, an online fitness club, blogs from several well respected ambassadors, and regular podcasts. All these activities aim to help provide a well-rounded approach to helping consumers boost their physical and mental health.

Related topics Markets & trends CBD / Hemp

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