Curtains for nude rugby in Dunedin?

Nude Blacks v England 2014 (Supplied)
Nude Blacks v England 2014 (Supplied)

It's been an unofficial curtain-raiser before rugby Test matches in Dunedin for more than a decade.  But the world-famous Nude Blacks may be staying indoors this month, when the All Blacks head south to take on Wales at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The quirky southern tradition began in 2002, when a group of Dunedin students challenged visiting backpackers to a game of nude rugby.

Long-time organiser Ralph Davies wanted to relax and enjoy the Test match this year, while busy student schedules over exam season have made it difficult finding others to take over the role.

The Headfirst Travel manager says he spends hundreds of hours before each nude rugby match, organising a playing ground and marking out the field, finding players and training them on the unique aspects of the game, securing sponsorship and arranging team tattoos and "uniforms".

The Nude Rugby Internationals have attracted a lot of international media attention over the years, especially in 2011 when Dunedin hosted three naked games alongside the city's three Rugby World Cup matches.

The early games were played on St Kilda Beach, before moving onto regular rugby grounds to accommodate the increase in interest from spectators. The last match was played in June 2014, where the Nude Blacks beat a spirited England invitational team 24-19 at University Oval.

Veteran Nude Blacks captain Dave Bourke says it's a bit of a bummer that things haven't come together for the this year's match.

"Getting everything organised with a new crew in a short space of team was looking pretty difficult," he says. "But it'll be a shame to lose the spectacle from the local rugby calendar."

But he said it wouldn't have been a problem assembling two teams of willing naked volunteers.

"I was watching the game last Saturday night in the pub, and got chatting to four Welsh guys who were dead keen to get their kit off for the game," says Mr Bourke. "A couple of the bar staff were also interested in joining the New Zealand team, and a good group from our last squad were match fit and ready."

Otago students have often formed the bulk of the Nude Blacks squads, and help bolster the ranks of the visiting sides. While former players admit they've been the 'butt' of a few jokes from friends and family, many have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, event managers, real estate agents, personal trainers and even a couple of reporters.

Mr Bourke isn't totally ruling out "something smaller and unofficial" ahead of the All Blacks Test match, but says nothing has been arranged at this stage.

But Mr Davies is confident the Nude Blacks will be back to full strength next year, providing some 'cheeky' pre-match entertainment when the touring Lions side meet the Highlanders in June, and again when the All Blacks take on Australia in August.

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