Friday, June 25, 2010

Nekkid Rugby in NZ

Only One Ball Counts in Nude Rugby
David Moye

(June 24) -- Rugby is tough enough when you're clothed, but it's even
harder when you're naked.

But that may just be the selling point of the annual nude rugby match at
Logan Park in Dunedin, New Zealand.

The seventh annual event was held June 19, and the freewheeling (and
free-balling) contest attracted around 2,500 fans, willing to spend the
first day of winter watching a very stiff competition between the
undefeated Nude Blacks and the visiting Welsh Leeks.

Wait, What?

Players compete in a nude rugby game at Logan Park on June 19 in
Dunedin, New Zealand. A naked rugby match is a traditional prelude to a
New Zealand All Blacks Test match in Dunedin against a visiting team.

The prize? A toilet seat trophy.

The event is the brainchild of Ralph Davies, who told
that nude rugby was in keeping with the student-dominated city.

"Dunedin students are well known for getting their kit off and running
around, so that's how the idea really became, and it's just blown out of
all proportion since then," Davies said.

Although some folks might be offended by the idea, Davies said every
effort is made to keep the game -- and the players -- clean and tidy.

"It's not a nudie perve, it's a kick and giggle," he said.

The event actually ties together two separate but equal events: National
Nude Day and a test match against a local team by the All Blacks, a
rugby team in New Zealand that is as popular in Kiwi country as the New
York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys or Los Angeles Lakers are in the U.S.

Rugby is a brutal sport, and players don't wear nearly the amount of
padding that football players do, so playing completely naked is
obviously even more difficult. Despite that, Davies said there haven't
been any serious injuries since the very first tournament.

"One guy did pop a shoulder once, but apparently this frequently
happened, and it was popped back in and he went on to score a try,"
Davies said in an e-mail interview with AOL News.

"One lady in the crowd did get in the way of a tackled player out of
play and was bundled over, but no damage. I am not sure if she
appreciated the hugs from the players to see if she was OK. But I think
the smile on her face presumed all was OK."

Considering the game took place on the first day of the New Zealand
winter, it might seem that wind chill could be as much of a danger as an
untimely kick in the wedding tackle. Luckily, that was not the case this

"[We had] brilliantly fine conditions -- a balmy winter's afternoon in
Dunedin [64 degrees] was a far cry from the frozen beach for the first
match in 2002, which was around [37 degrees]," Davies said.

But there were some problems. For instance, every year the event is
plagued by some spectator who insists on streaking while wearing
clothes. Inevitably, this scofflaw is arrested by a naked constable.
This year, a woman fan chose to get in on the fun.

"This year, we had a totally random woman drop her kit and run on to the
field to the delight of everyone, including the players as she kissed
and hugged them," Davies said. "She carried on to take part in a
line-out and score a try of her own."

Although playing nude might be a deal breaker for some teams, Davies
said he's never had a problem finding teams willing to do it. But even
if he did, he has that covered.

"We've never had any cancellations," he said. "A core group of Dunedin
University students -- or 'Scarfies' -- makes up the Nude Blacks, and
they can provide extras if we get short on the visiting team."

This year, the Nude Blacks once again won the trophy, and now, according
to the Sydney Morning Herald, the team already anticipates next year's
nude rugby World Cup.

"We know what the Scots wear under their kilts, so we can expect an
interesting matchup for that fixture,'' Davies said.

Since the Nude Blacks don't wear britches, there's no chance of the team
getting too big for them. Davies understands the appeal of nude rugby is
based on its now-you-see-it, now-you-don't quality.

"I think if it was held every week, the interest would wane," he said.
"So we only pull it out once a year as a precursor to the big matches
and thus maintain the interest and fascination of the public.

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