RIL’s Tom Home recently caught up with Bedford Blues player back Grayson Hart to discuss what he has been getting up to during lockdown. The former Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh and Waratahs scrum-half discusses his his 14-year career, his latest business venture outside of rugby and much more.

Rugby Inside Line – First and foremost, how has lockdown affected your diet and training?

Grayson Hart – I think my diet has actually improved as we have had all this time at home to cook and so has my wife. Usually, when the season is on, because I run my own business alongside rugby, I am rushing between meetings and calls for my business and then to training, so sometimes my meals and planning of them can be a bit rushed. So, it has been nice to have more time to prepare and enjoy some good food.

In the last couple of seasons, seeing as I am getting pretty old now, I have become a bit bored of the routine with the gym side of rugby. It usually feels quite rushed when you are at training as we are always on a tight schedule, so usually end up with 45 minutes in the gym each day. The best part about the gym, when the season is on, is having all the guys there and having some good energy and some good tunes – and some really bad depending who’s on music duty that day! But it’s always a good laugh.

I have really enjoyed being away from the normal routine and making up my own workouts. I am really grateful that the club let players take some gym equipment home, so I have been making up some daily workouts in the back yard which has been fun. The weights I borrowed weren’t too heavy, so be interesting to see how I feel trying to lift heavier ones when I am back. I don’t think I will do too well on the strength testing when we return!

RIL – Have you found that not following the professionalised routines of a Premiership club has affected you?

Grayson Hart – I think there are definitely pros and cons. I feel sometimes that the bigger clubs can really over coach and take the fun out of the game at times, so it’s nice to have some of that grassroots feeling about the game that the Championship provides. It can sometimes be tough getting motivated before the game on a freezing night when you are playing on a muddy pitch in the middle of nowhere compared to knowing your games televised and playing in a full stadium.

What I have always found though is when the whistle goes to start the game, rugby is rugby and you rip into it whether it’s a European Cup game or a humble as can be Championship Cup fixture. I feel just as much enjoyment and fulfilment playing in the Championship the last few years compared to some of the bigger clubs I have played at. I do wish that the championship was looked after more by the RFU and RPA, it has proved to be such a great comp to develop players for higher honours and I feel its completely neglected by both.

Championship players need the help and guidance more than anyone as the salaries earned don’t leave you with a big savings or investment portfolio to sit on while you transition into your next aspect of life, and a lot of Championship clubs expect to pay players very little, yet train full time which, I feel, takes away from players opportunity to evolve outside of the game. I think Bedford Blues is a pretty good example for Championship clubs as they train later in the afternoons three-days a week, which allows us to develop skills outside the game. This is what drew me to the club, the chance to play for a great team at a good level, while also having the time to upskill outside of rugby.

RIL – Have you undertaken any activities/hobbies that you didn’t previously find yourself doing before lockdown?

Grayson Hart – I have utilised all my spare time working on my business Pure Sport CBD. We have had a lot of developments going on during this lockdown, so that has kept me very busy! The business is a year and a half old now and was created after I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my knee a few years ago. I ended up having to take pain killers every single day to be able to train and play properly. The painkillers were having some really negative effects on my health and wellbeing, so I started looking for natural alternatives. That’s when I came across CBD- cannabidiol, which is a completely legal and non-psychoactive extract of the hemp plant.

I saw that many UFC and NFL athletes were seeing great benefits, so I did more research and tried it for myself and found it hugely beneficial. There was no brand that was certified to be safe and secure for drug tested athletes in the world, so that’s when I and my business partners began working on developing Pure Sport CBD. We now have products certified by BSCG – the Olympic standard in sport supplement certification. It’s been cool to create a brand that provides my fellow athletes with a genuinely healthy option to pain killers. It has caught onto the wider community also as so many health-conscious people are looking for a brand they can trust.

We have got ambassadors, including Danny Cipriani, Jerome Kaino and many more, so the word has been spreading nicely. It is a lot of hard work, but I am loving it and it is providing me the chance to step away from rugby into my own business that I am passionate about when the time is right.

RIL – When you’re not doing some form of training, how do you keep yourself physically and mentally active?

Grayson Hart – It sounds cliché but I really love walking the dogs and my wife and I also go out for a few 5km runs too, which is nice to do together. I have always had a real interest in mental wellbeing, so I love reading books from different philosophers. Lately my favourite has been a guy named Alan Watts, who was famous for bringing Zen philosophies to the Western world.

RIL – What is the best thing about having a break from rugby?

Grayson Hart – It has been a great opportunity to be at home and spend more time with my wife, who is usually out working very hard too. A chance to chill out a bit and question what our real priorities are; it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. The break from rugby has also allowed me to question if I still really want to be doing it as it’s given me a prolonged period away from the game to reflect and actually see what it’s like to not be around a team for the first time in 14-years! Obviously, the body and head not being bashed around on a daily basis has to be a positive too!

RIL – What meal have you mastered during lockdown?

Grayson Hart – I am a pretty humble cook – my wife does all the 5-star dishes in our house! I have been mastering my morning smoothie game though, lots of healthy stuff in there to start the day!

RIL – What is your pet peeve in lockdown and why?

Grayson Hart – The supermarket one-way systems actually seem to me to make people more on top of each other and gets some people really rattled!

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