With the Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge set to be played at Twickenham this year for the first time, women’s rugby is on the brink of getting a lot more exposure.
And some of the players on the Dark Blue side of the rivalry are now getting even more exposed, as they raise money for charity with a naked calendar.
The Oxford University women’s rugby team, who meet their Cambridge rivals on December 10, have stripped off for the calendar, in 13 different rugby-related poses.
An Oxford University scrum half prepares to pass the ball, in one of the shots for the team’s 2016 naked calendar
The Oxford women’s team will take on their Cambridge counterparts at Twickenham on December 10, the first time it has been played there
The entire squad link arms as they pose for a team photo in front of the stand as part of their 2016 naked calendar
Braving the cold weather, captain Carly Bliss told Sportsmail it was a great day for her and her team-mates, who had to keep nipping inside to warm up in between shots.
‘The calendar shoot was great fun for the whole squad!’ she said. ‘Not only was it a great team building exercise but knowing we were raising money for our club and for such an amazing charity spurred us all on the brave the chilly October afternoon.
‘The shoot did take some time: we wanted the photographs to be technically accurate from a rugby point of view, in addition to underpinning the important messages we want to spread on behalf of OURFC Woman and Beat.’
The tasteful shots, which show members of the squad training in the nude, while wearing just their rugby socks and boots, will help to raise money for Beat, a charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders or difficulties with food, weight, and shape.
The team are raising money for charity Beat, a charity supporting those affected by eating disorders
The 2016 calendar, which the group are selling to members of their university and the general public, is all about body positivity, according to the club’s president Helen Lamb.
‘The message that Beat promotes really fits with the positive body image and confidence that we promote at OURFC Women. Our calendar highlights the variety of women that play rugby and we hope it will encourage and inspire more women to try out rugby.
‘The majority of the team had never considered doing a naked calendar before but it was obvious that everyone was really keen to give it a go.’
Along with money from every calendar sold being donated to charity, the initiative will also seek to help promote grassroots rugby within the university, with all the remaining profits being invested into the club. Their last effort, in 2014, raised several thousand pounds for Oxford University-based charity Mind Your Head.
The club produced a similar naked calendar two years ago, when they featured some of their players competing at a line-out
While the men’s Varsity Match has been running since 1872, and has been played at Twickenham every year since 1921, the women’s game is only just gaining recognition.
When they meet Cambridge Women at Rugby HQ on December 10, it will be just the 29th Varsity Match between the two sides, and the first to be held at the same venue as the men’s fixture.
‘Twickenham hosting our annual Varsity Match is a huge step forward for Women’s Rugby at the University of Oxford,’ Bliss told Sportsmail.
‘The Women’s Varsity Match has 27 years of history and I believe playing alongside the Men’s Varsity Match at Twickenham Stadium this the rightful place for this esteemed match.
‘It demonstrates that women’s sport is regarded as equal to that of men’s and highlights the prestige associated with the Varsity Match and the great honour it is the for individual players selected to represent their university.’
It is a message Lamb echoes: ‘For OURFC Women the move to Twickenham is hugely important. It allows us to demonstrate the hard work we put in all year round and highlight the level of women’s rugby at Oxford and Cambridge.
‘It’s a great opportunity to introduce women’s rugby to many rugby fans who may have never watched it before, and encourage them to continue watching the women’s game.’
The calendars, which cost £12 for members of the public and £10 for university members, are on sale online.
The 2014 calendar featured the players running out onto the pitch, raising money for Mind Your Head, a mental health awareness campaign
marseilleman novembre 20th, 2015