Players bare all for true rugby test

Cool runnings ... players strip down for a chilly match of nude rugby.
Cool runnings ... players strip down for a chilly match of nude rugby. Photo: Supplied

The true mark of a man is in his swagger, according to Dunedin folk.

And there is no better indication of this than rugby played in its purest form.

Nude, that is.

Perched at the bottom of New Zealand's South Island, Dunedin on Saturday hosted the All Blacks and Wales rugby Test at Carisbrook.

A few hours prior to the game, another international was played out before a 2500-strong crowd of rugby fans and curious tourists.

There's nothing delicate about this game

In a test reserved for men very confident in their ability, the undefeated Nude Blacks clash with the visiting Welsh Leeks.

The match coincides with National Nude Day, and the New Zealanders are led out by David "Bourkey" Bourke, a veteran of all Nude Blacks' games since they were formed in 2002.

The core of the 43-year-old's team were Otago University students, known as "scarfies".

"I've never turned away from stiff competition," Bourkey quips before the game.

On the field there is no shame and no inhibitions. In fact, there is nothing but men - and a football.

"Go the big fella," roar a chorus of spectators, as Bourkey takes to the pitch.

The competing players refuse to hold back, even at scrum time.

"There's nothing delicate about this game," one spectator says.

Here all are measured against a pint of the famous Dunedin brew, Speights Gold Medal Ale.

"None of them measure up," the spectator points out.

The Nude Blacks look set to retain the trophy come the end of the first 10-minute half, before a brawl erupts after one player is unceremoniously dumped to the turf.

"Come on Nude Blacks, show us all ya got," bellows one spectator to rousing laughter and applause.

While the players are very much exposed to the elements, there is also nowhere to hide for the crowd stationed along the touchline.

Women squeal and bolt for higher ground as three Leeks clamber for a wayward pass.

The line-out that follows prompts more giggles, before the ball spins wide to the Nude Black's first five.

He slips a pinpoint pass to the charging fullback on the crash, who slices through the Leek's defence and scores in the left-hand corner.

The Nude Blacks retain their trophy, crossing for four tries to three.

There are no concerns when a naked woman runs onto the field for a celebratory lap of honour on behalf of the victors.

Ruth from Wales watches on as her husband, Johnny, a member of the Leeks team, poses for post-match photos.

"Oh my, that was so embarrassing," she says.

"I had no say in this. He's a very proud Welshman.

"He was not going to pass up this opportunity to represent Wales."

Ruth and Johnny made the journey to Dunedin with Bottom Bus Deep South Adventures.

"We played strong and came back well, but unfortunately we got very fatigued and we lost a bit of structure," Johnny says.

He will not be allowed to compete again, Ruth says. Ever.

Bottom Bus tour manager Ralph Davies says: "In all our years of this fixture we have never seen visitors embracing the concept as passionately as the Welsh."

The Nude Blacks are already anticipating next year's nude rugby World Cup, he says.

"We do not have much knowledge of Georgia, but we know what the Scots wear under their kilts so we can expect an interesting match-up for that fixture," he says.

"The concept has international appeal and is all meant as a bit of a fun - kick and giggle stuff - which has been accepted as a part of major rugby weekends in Dunedin."

As far as the victorious skipper, Bourkey, is concerned, winning isn't everything.

"It's all in the name of fun ... and good rugby," he says.

The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism New Zealand.

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