Oxford University women’s rugby players strip off for charity

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The Oxford University women’s rugby players ahead of their Varsity Match with Cambridge on December 10 have stripped off for a calendar shoot to raise money for charity.

The Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge is set to be played at Twickenham this year for the first time.

Braving the cold weather, captain Carly Bliss and her team have posed naked in 13 different rugby related poses for the calendar shoot.

“The calendar shoot was great fun for the whole squad. 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,” Bliss said.

“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 shots in black and white show the squad training in nude wearing just their rugby socks and boots.

The shoot will help to raise money for Beat, a charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders or difficulties with food, weight, and shape.

The 2016 calendar will be sold to members of their university and the general public.

According to the club’s president Helen Lamb, the shoot is all about body positivity.

“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.”

The team also seeks to promote grassroots rugby within the university, with all the remaining profits being invested into the club. Their last effort, in 2014, raised several thousands of pounds for Oxford University-based charity Mind Your Head.

The men’s Varsity Match has been running since 1872, and has been played at Twickenham every year since 1921.

However, the women’s Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge Women at Rugby Headquarters on December 10 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,” added captain Bliss.

“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.”

Echoing her sentiment Lamb says, “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 costing £12 for members of the public and £10 for university members can be purchased online.

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