George Kruis and Dominic Day: Rugby Players Taking Cannabis Products
Rugby players at the Premiership rugby club are using cannabis oil products on a weekly basis. In Saracens, England, George Kruis and his Welsh club mate, Dominic Day, take cannabis oils, capsules, and balms to help heal their bodies. Questions have come up as to its legality, what the rugby authorities say, and if players are getting a high feeling from it. BBC Sport spoke to both of them to find out.
CBD is comprised of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that produces a euphoric feeling in people, and has been linked to an increased risk of mental health conditions. It can also produce other side effects. But another component is cannabidiol (CBD), which the World Health Organization (WHO) says does not cause harm or have addiction potential. The World Anti-Doping Authority, or Wada, which governs rugby’s Anti-Doping policy, removed CBD from its banned list in January 2019. Although cannabis is an illegal class B drug in the U.K., CBD is legal on its own. It helps with chronic pain, and to promote better sleep. Day said that he had been taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs just to be able to play on the weekend. He didn’t want to continue with that regimen, so he uses CBD oil instead. Kruis said that the rugby players weren’t using these products to get high, and that the stigma attached to cannabis was due to a lack of knowledge about it. Day added that there was not nearly enough THC in the products to feel a high effect. When asked how the players discovered CBD and then used it, Day replied that he started taking it after knee surgery, since he was looking for every possible way to get better. He was icing his knee and stretching, and one day came across CBD online, where people were talking about its benefits. He tried vaping at first, but it wasn’t what he wanted, so he switched to using the oils. His physiologist noticed the difference even though he was unaware that the player was taking it at that time. The first thing he noticed was that the quality of his sleep was greatly improved, and the inflammation and pain in his knee went down. He was convinced it worked, and the same was true for Kruis. The 28 year old player required ankle surgery after Day, and began using cannabis oil after speaking to his teammate. He also reported improved sleep as a benefit for him. He had low-level chronic pain, and was able to reduce the amount of painkillers he was taking. Kruis has 27 caps for England, and was featured against South Africa and New Zealand in recent autumn trials. Kruis and Day are both using CBD products legally, and Kruis said that he was happy to take CBD during the season, and that he knew the rules and guidelines surrounding its use. He added that it is completely legal in the U.K., and is approved by Wada. He said that they approved it because they must have seen its benefits. The players kept the coaches apprised of what they were doing off the field. The coaches were interested in knowing about that, and the players kept Saracens updated through the whole process. Kruis thinks that there is a gray area as to CBD’ s being fine to take, so that knowledge needed to be instilled in the coaches and unions. Kruis also said that a stigma about cannabis still exists, so the players wanted to educate the public about it. Day and Kruis said there is a lot of interest in CBD, so they sought to educate people about its benefits. He said people were intrigued by it despite the lack of knowledge, and wanted to learn more about it. Kruis said that there were four or five players in every club who were taking it, so it would be worthwhile to create an effective product that both consumers and governing bodies were happy about.