Nude calendar aims to attract women to rugby

Last updated 12:31 06/12/2010
Women's rugby calendar

NAKED APPEAL: Lock Bekki Abernethy is Miss March in the Old Boys University women's rugby team nude 2011 calendar.

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When the Old Boys University women's rugby team stripped for a nude calendar shoot at Wellington's Basin Reserve on a Sunday morning, they drew their biggest crowd of the year.

Those venturing through the famous cricket ground were stopped in their tracks by a pack of naked flesh, as the team crouched, paused and engaged in a risque photo shoot.

With All Blacks Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Alama Ieremia among the sponsors, the calendar was intended to attract women to play rugby, by highlighting its feminine side, Miss March, Bekki Abernethy, said.

Every season her side had struggled to attract numbers, as female rugby players were often branded as masculine and unfeminine, which discouraged many women from taking it up.

"Our calendar rails against this myth," Abernethy said.

"I'm blonde, I'm not exactly a big rugby player. I'm a girl doing her thing, we're all normal girls, that's what we were trying to portray."

Abernethy had thought the calendar a great idea, until she found herself bouncing starkers on a backyard trampoline, clutching a rugby ball and bits of her body she didn't care to share with the world.

"It was a little bit different. I'm not used to being photographed like that. I was quite conscious the girls were saying there were some neighbours looking in. It was an experience all round," she said.

She was worried her photo portrayed her as serious, when she was actually upbeat and smiley, but her teammates loved the strong image, saying it was what they were looking for.

Launched in the Cambridge Hotel on Saturday night, 1000 calendars are for sale, some on  TradeMe.

"I've had a few grandmothers say they're going to buy it for their grandsons for Christmas - instead of the usual sock and tie combination they get a naked calendar!"

Unlikely to snap one up is the married woman who berated the team as "disgusting" for disrobing in south Wellington's Martin Luckie Park, where children could see them.

"Her and her husband proceeded to park up in the lounge and watch us, so they couldn't have been that disgusted. That was a bit park up and watch very intently was a bit interesting."

Maybe they will buy a calendar after all.

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