Footy play­ers strip to tackle ob­sta­cles

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - HOLLY ROBERT­SON

IF THERE is one thing foot­ball play­ers love more than frock­ing up, it’s get­ting out their tackle.

And the Port Dou­glas Reef Raiders rugby union club mem­bers are no ex­cep­tion.

But it’s all for a bit of fun - these boys don’t take them­selves too se­ri­ously.

Four years ago a “tra­di­tion” emerged for new play­ers to strip down and nav­i­gate what is be­lieved to be Aus­tralia’s largest nude ob­sta­cle course.

Coach Shane Branch said the wacky rit­ual emerged af­ter a group of se­nior play­ers played a prac­ti­cal joke on a bunch of new re­cruits.

“They told the new guys it had been go­ing on for years when it hadn’t and got them to do it,” he said.

“The course gets big­ger and more com­plex ev­ery year.”

Chal­lenges in­clude a drink­ing game to kick off the fes­tiv­i­ties, a few spins in a chair to bring on dizzi­ness, crawl­ing un­der ropes, a slip­pery slide and a sack race.

“There are a few scars ev­ery year, but no missing ap­pendages so far,” Branch said.

The Raiders re­cently fin­ished fifth in the Cairns District Rugby Union com­pe­ti­tion.

An on­slaught of new play­ers this sea­son meant about 15 bare-cheeked young men braved Satur­day’s ini­ti­a­tion.

It’s not com­pul­sory, but all bar one or two new­bies elected to strip down. Kieran “Pup” McKew was first across the line.

“They never get up­set about it, they just re­alise it’s one of those things you’ve got to do,” Branch said. “We all shower to­gether af­ter the games so no­body’s shy.”

Per­haps the most bizarre as­pect of the whole ex­er­cise is the end prod­uct. Wives, girl­friends and chil­dren don’t turn up to cheer on their loved ones, but they do get a later chance to watch the spec­ta­cle on re­peat, rewind, fast­for­ward or in slow mo­tion.

“We put to­gether footage and set it to Benny Hill mu­sic and make it into a video,” Branch said. “We cover up all the pieces though, of course.”

Gazette pho­tog­ra­pher Neil Weavers drew the short straw and was sent along to cover the event. The club has re­quested a copy of his pho­to­graphs to use in the video.

“But don’t send them via email or we could both get ar­rested,” Branch joked.

Raiders re­cruits, be warned: your re­veal­ing pho­tos have been kept on file.

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