Gethin ‘Huge’ Hughes And The PitchBomb Cocktail That Badly Backfired

Gethin ‘Huge’ Hughes is the hero of a new rugby book, Absolutely Huge, written by author Luke Upton. Published by Y Lolfa (£9.99), and available now, ‘Huge’ becomes a major Welsh sporting celebratory in a series of adventures and misadventures, including an infamous association with a Ukranian-made energy drink. Here’s an extract:

With continued success on the pitch and his relationship with Heledd Harte giving him a profile beyond just rugby fans, a number of commercial opportunities came Gethin’s way. His first deal was to feature in adverts with Yew Tree Dairy (later renamed Dragon Vale Dairy) promoting yoghurts, then came an agreement to be the face (and body) of Welsh clothing shops Fred’s Threads, but the most high profile tie-up was with an energy drink manufacturer to make his own range – Huge Bombs.

At this stage, Gethin had very little involvement in commercial agreements, leaving everything in the hands of his agent Gary Johns, but as he admitted, welcoming the cheques that were arriving and significantly boosting his earnings. The launch of Huge Bombs was, however, an unmitigated disaster.

Absolutely Huge

The idea was to have two different drinks, one designed to be consumed before exercise – #PITCHBOMBS – and the other before a night out – #CLUBBOMBS. The name itself, in an era of terrorist attacks, should have caused the first few doubts, and the manufacturer being об’єднаний Chemicals of Ukraine should also have sounded alarm bells.

But Gethin put his face and a quote (‘I’m Gethin Hughes, and when I need to explode, I reach for a Huge Bomb’) on the cans. The packaging also carried a faux health warning stating that each drink would cause “excess stamina, excitement, mischief and euphoria.” Huge Bombs were officially launched in Cardiff in May, with the #PITCHBOMBS sports version distributed free across the city’s playing fields and the party ones to be given out in town later that evening.

While they were marketed differently, toxicology reports later showed that both drinks, luminous green and served in 500 ml cans, were in fact exactly the same. The city’s amateur sportsmen and women were the first to suffer the effects of Huge Bombs, on what the media would later call ‘Black Saturday’.

A record number of red cards and injuries were reported across Cardiff’s amateur leagues, with players being described in the exasperated referee reports as being ‘manic’, ‘deranged’ and even ‘possessed’. One football match was abandoned after corner flags were used as weapons, the first time this had been recorded in the Cardiff girls’ U14 league.

 

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A rugby match was abandoned after the referee had to send off both linesmen for fighting each other, whilst a lawn bowls match dissolved into a fracas so ugly that riot police had to be called in to quell it. The carnage would continue on St Mary’s Street that night, as promotions girls and guys wearing Gethin masks handed out cans of #CLUBBOMBS to revellers.

Saturday night in Cardiff is always lively, but on this particular evening, the effects of Huge Bombs colliding with alcohol and other substances led to the busiest night in South Wales Police history. Over 300 arrests were made over the course of the evening, with the words ‘Club bombs’, ‘Huge bombs’ or ‘Huge’ featuring in over 200 of the police reports.

One merrymaker eventually coaxed down from a flagpole in Cardiff Castle reportedly told police officers that “Gethin made me do it”, whilst another partygoer was arrested attempting to gain entry to the museum wearing a Gethin mask and claiming, “Huge is a work of art – he should be in there too.”

Absolutely Huge is now published and available in bookshops across Wales, direct from Y Lolfa, and on Amazon and other online retailers.

Y Lolfa

Amazon

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