The women of the Canadian national rugby squad are baring it all in a calendar as part of an effort to "build the profile of their sport, shatter stereotypes and lend a little support to charity."
In a press release, Rugby Canada said the team hoped to promote positive body images and show the results of training hard, working hard and living a healthy lifestyle. Proceeds from calendar sales will be used to support the women's program. They are currently preparing for the World Cup and Olympic qualifiers -- the sport makes it Olympic debut in Rio de Janiero in 2016.
"Every woman on this team works so hard at being physically fit and eating properly, it is a reward to have these pictures taken so we can see our bodies in a beautiful light," says national team member Barbara Mervin. "Playing in such a rough sport, we sometimes lose the beauty that is in it. We hear all the time that we don't look like rugby players, so there is clearly a stereotype about what women rugby players should look like. But having muscles is very beautiful and being physically fit is very attractive. We are elite athletes and we are proud of our bodies."
The 16-month 2013 calendar, which can be ordered online at http://nswtcalendar.com/, features 17 members of the Canadian women's rugby team. It's far from a traditional fund-raiser, but it's worked better than the usual fare for Rugby Canada. And the organization also hopes the calendar will be a vehicle for highlighting the team's success on the field.
"We are also hoping to raise some awareness about how successful our program has been," says Mervin. "Yes, sex sells but we hope to have a stronger message about body types. We hope we can help young girls to know that you can be 170 pounds and be absolutely beautiful. We hope they can relate to someone's body and see beauty in that. A national team athlete has enormous quads and we consider them very beautiful. There is beauty in the athletic body, and that is what we have tried to capture with the images."
Canada's rugby women first put out such a calendar in 2004. The effort was the brainchild of former national team player Colette McAuley. While the proceeds help support a fledgling program, McAuley says the calendar effort is more notable for showcasing the lean, muscular bodies of Canada's female rugby players and transforming the stereotypical image of women who play sports.
"With the growth of the 7s game, you are seeing women with a very athletic body type," she said in a press release. "These calendars show another side of the rugby player. The uniforms and jerseys we wear are not very flattering to the female athletes, who are strong and muscular and beautiful. The women in the Canadian program are very attractive. This year's calendar has a wow factor, plus a very sexy factor. It's fantastic."