Footy players strip to tackle obstacles
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.