The water polo team pose tastefully for their contribution to the calendarDomininkas

It’s strange to sit across from people who you’ve seen naked at the best of times. At least normally it’s mutual, but this time I’ve seen Izzy, Nancy, Charles, and Charlie posed artfully — neoclassically, my friend suggested — on the RAG naked calendar. Given the fact that both the boys are called Charles, it’s unsurprising that they’ll be featuring on the November spread — the Rugby boys.

The Rugby girls’ photo is equally artful, set underneath the Kings’ bridge. Nancy remembers filing through Queens’ in robes early in the morning. The boys weren’t so lucky, taking their photo at midday in a busy Magdalene court. Charlie thinks that “the locations they chose made it look more impressive,” but it must have been exposing. Charles says they stood naked for twenty minutes as students filed past. When I ask if he was at all embarrassed, he laughs. “They walked through the door and were all just staring and pointing at my dick”. “I don’t really care if people see my penis. I think it was worse for them than it was for me”. Sadly, the tasteful nature of the calendar means I can neither confirm nor deny it.

“I don’t really care if people see my penis”

Aside from a brief encounter with an old man outside Kings, which Nancy remembers as far more embarrassing for him than them (they all waved), the shoot wasn’t at all awkward for the girls. Nancy was relieved that the photographer wasn’t a Cambridge student, but a professional photographer smoking his way through the shoot. Between the two of them, they can’t work out whether the smoke was being used to blur the photo or the photographer was just a chainsmoker. Looking at the calendar, I can’t see any smoke, so it might be the latter. Nancy says that “it might be more weird for teams who don’t shower together,” and the boys agree. “It’s all stuff we’ve seen before,” Nancy laughs. “It’s a classic stereotype, isn’t it, that rugby boys all love to get naked together,” says Charlie. “We were going to do it anyway so we may as well do it for charity”.

Since the shoot, there haven’t been any bad reactions from family or friends. Charles’ mum was “lapping it up,” he says. “She thought it was hilarious”. Nancy’s mum “loved it”. It seems like it was a popular Christmas present, and Izzy and Charlie’s grandmas were lucky recipients. As for Charlie’s parents, they “obviously wanted one ... But they’ll have to buy themselves one”. Nancy and Charles share a look, before she launches into a retelling of “what happened in maccies at midnight”. In my view, always a bad start. We all agree, though, that someone you barely know shouting “I love your work” at you across the sticky floors of the yellow arches isn’t the worst thing that could have happened. She says she “took it for what it was,” and that she had expected that kind of response.


Mountain View

Captain’s Corner: Rugby League

Certainly, the benefits outweigh any backlash. Friends of mine who saw the girls’ photo thought it was empowering, and I ask Nancy and Izzy if that’s how they felt. Although Izzy wasn’t worried before, she tells me that “A few people messaged me before saying they weren’t sure about it, because of body confidence issues”. “Rugby’s the kind of sport where, like, there’s lots of different body types”. But with a supportive squad, Izzy got a big group together, and it’s amazing to see women’s bodies celebrated for their strength.

The boys seemed to have had the opposite problem: “excess,” as Charlie puts it. “We had too many people sign up,” says Charles. “Originally it was going to be the people who were the most ripped”. “It wasn’t in a horrible way,” he clarifies. “It was just, like, well if someone’s going to do it it’s going to be you, because you’re really muscly”. As Charlie puts it, “you’ve got to put your best foot forward, haven’t you”. In the end, the RAG team let them all take part.

Most importantly, the proceeds from the naked calendar go to Cambridge RAG’s partner charities. This year, that’s Wintercomfort for the Homeless, Refuge, and Dig Deep. With a record profit in the last few years of £7000, the RAG team are “so proud and overjoyed to donate to such great charities”. When I ask for any final comments, Charlie puts it simply: he’s “pro-RAG, pro calendar”.