Thanks in part to its popular debut at the Rio Olympics, rugby seems to have taken off in America. But nearly a decade before the Summer Games, the sport gained momentum in Brooklyn with the inception of the Brooklyn Rugby Club.
New Yorkers can get an intimate glimpse at the men and women of the BRC via its 2017 calendars, which are currently on sale for $15. While it's the fourth installment for the men, but the first time the women players are involved.
“It’s come at a great time because women’s rugby is exploding in the U.S.,” club chairman Ben Martin told Metro. “It’s not as provocative as the men’s calendar — it’s more a celebration of different body types and unity.”
The club first published a men’s calendar in 2013 as a member-suggested fundraiser, “so we all took our shirts off and took some very glamorous shots in and around Brooklyn,” said Martin, who appears as Santa in December’s photo.
The calendars are drastically different. The men often appear half-naked in suggestive or humorous poses. The women’s calendar, which was creatively directed and shot by women in black-and-white, shows the team in various stages of play or preparation.
“It’s outselling the men’s calendar,” Martin said.
He said one of the biggest misconceptions he hears about is that many people are surprised that it’s played by so many Americans.
“Anytime I go home and talk about playing for or running a rugby club, people guess it’s mostly ex-pats,” said Martin, a native of the United Kingdom. “While there’s a large ex-pat contingent of members, most of the people are American born and raised."
BROOKLYN RUGBY CLUB PRIMER
- BRC has nearly 100 active players and several hundred members. The men’s and women’s teams were founded separately in 2007.
- The average age range for men is 25-35, while the women’s team skews 30 and under.
- Though it’s not an NCAA sport, rugby is played at many of colleges.
- There are two versions of rugby: sevens and fifteens, which refer to the number of players on the field. Sevens is more tournament-based with 14-minute games during the summer. Fifteens is spit into spring and fall seasons that generally consist of eight games.