The tourism potential of nude rugby is swelling, with about 2500 spectators turning out at the weekend to watch New Zealand’s Nude Blacks play an English Invitation team at University Oval in the South Island city of Dunedin.
Event organiser Ralph Davies told Dunedin’s Otago Daily Times the game was an unofficial curtain-raiser for Saturday’s All Blacks-England clash at Forsyth Barr Stadium. The All Blacks won that match 28-27, a result presaged by the nude curtain-raiser, which the Nude Blacks won 24-19.
Crowds for nude rugby, although smaller than the turnout for clothed matches, have grown steadily over the years. Tourists, especially backpackers, find nude rugby a hilarious diversion.
In keeping with tradition, the game was refereed by Dunedin identity Julie Woods, also known as “That Blind Woman”, the Otago Daily Times reported.
Woods’ sight began to deteriorate in the early 1990s and in 1997 she was declared legally blind.
“I felt I had two choices”, Woods said. “I could either be pitied or admired and the first simply wasn’t an option to me.”
She has since worked for New Zealand’s Foundation of the Blind and she now works as a professional inspirational speaker and coach under the brand “That Blind Woman.” Refereeing nude rugby matches is among her many talents.
Nude rugby in Dunedin can be a chilly business, with the temperature in the city currently fluctuating between about 3 C and 12 C, depending on time of day.
A very brief video clip of the match (just 28 seconds) can be viewed by clicking here
Warning: the clip shows grown men running around without any clothes on.
The only problem with nude rugby is that it apparently inspired a streaker to run naked across the pitch during the All Blacks vs England match, the major (fully clothed) event held later the same day.
Burly security guard Brad Hemopo tackled the naked streaker at the All Blacks vs England match, put him in a headlock and dragged him off the pitch. The streaker (who police say was “under the influence of alcohol” – who’d have thought it!) spent the night in police cells and has been charged with offensive behaviour, carrying a maximum fine of NZD 1000. Many observers say Hemopo, who plays rugby for Canterbury when not working in security, went too far and could have seriously injured the streaker.
How naked streakers might be dealt with during a nude rugby match, or whether they would be charged, is another matter, and an intriguing question.
Written by : Peter Needham