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    First Published: November 2016
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We all know great sportsman have great bodies but not all of them want to show them off to quite the extent of The Warwick Rowers. We're glad they do because since 2009 the Rowers, who are all students at Warwick University, have been stripping off every year.

The Warwick Rowers Calendar has achieved global recognition as a fundraising initiative and a public awareness campaign, delivering products to around 80 countries every year and reaching more than 140 countries through its viral messaging. It has won a large number of awards for excellence, innovation and social impact, including twice being voted the UK Charity Calendar of the Year.

All Photography: Angus Malcolm

The Warwick Rowers have three main aims - to promote positive, inclusive and respectful attitudes towards people of all genders and sexualities; to fund the rowing programme at the University of Warwick, and particularly to make rowing more accessible to a wider number of students; and, to fund the ongoing development of Sport Allies, a registered charity with a mission to promote sport, and particularly team sport, as an inclusive and supportive route to personal growth for everyone.

If ever there was a time to promote an inclusive and supportive agenda in sport, given the news of the past few weeks - it's now.

Their 2017 calendar is the biggest and best yet and features shots of the boys naked in the woods, standing around the pool and in the grounds of a beautiful mansion.

But why strip off ? Well, their first naked calendar was produced eight years ago in the hope of raising much needed funds for boat house equipment. It quickly drew a massive following. So great was their popularity amongst gay men that they decided to give back to the community who support them the most.

Nowadays a good part of the proceeds from the naked calendar project goes to Sport Allies a charity that aims to combat homophobia in team sports.

We've been talking with the guys to find out what it's like to strip off for a good cause and why they decided to take on the homophobes.


Alex, Before you started at the University did you know about the calendar?
I had actually no idea when I took up rowing, but that was three years ago now and I only really understood what the project was in my second term of first year. I think it's really taken off in the last few years with the help of social media and so there's an ever increasing amount of new students each year with knowledge about the calendar.

Tom, Does everyone in the rowing team take part in the calendar?
The calendar isn't compulsory for everyone to take part in and some guys can't make it due to academic commitments (we shoot it during the term time), however a very large majority of the men's squad get involved. It is a lot of fun, as you just mess around with your mates for a couple of days every summer!

Tristan, Is there much competition to be featured in the calendar?
As we let everyone in the team take part I don't think there is competition. We're very competitive as a squad when it comes to fitness and strength, but I think the process of shooting the calendar is such good fun that we want everyone to be involved.

Tristan, Do you have any say in the poses you take in the pictures?
The shoot is a fairly organic process. Angus the photographer obviously shows up with some ideas as to the poses and shots he wants to take, but a lot of shots are on the spot collaborative ideas from the whole team.

Lucas, Did you ever feel shy about posing for the pictures?
I mean, it being my first time 'posing' in front of a camera for such purposes, I didn't really know what to do and therefore I might have been a bit shy at the beginning. But after a while you get used to it and it's all fine!

Will, Whilst there aren't full frontals in the calendar there's plenty more nudity in the movies. Did you find that a worry?
It's obviously a big step for all of us, but we feel it's something that really helps support our message. It's also done in a tasteful way, despite containing frontal nudity our films are tasteful and in no way overtly sexual.

Tom, What do other rowing teams think of Warwick and their calendar?
Warwick is pretty famous for its calendar and we get a lot of jokes about us actually wearing clothes when we get to races with other clubs, but it's all in good humour as they know it supports such a good cause. It's even been known for some people to ask for pictures with some of the rowers!

Tristan, Have you ever had negative comments or people being dismissive of what you do?
Luckily we haven't faced that much negativity at all. Given the amount of exposure we have, we're always going to get a certain amount of negativity from internet trolls and people who don't agree with our message. However this is on a very small scale, and the positivity of our supporters makes it easy to deal with.

Lucas, Are many of the team gay? Have they themselves experienced homophobia in sport?
No, we don't have that many gay members. I know we've had a couple of gay members who have featured in the calendar in previous years. And being honest, I haven't had a chat with any of them to see if they experienced homophobia, as what matters is that they don't experience any homophobia while they are at university.


You can purchase a Calendar direct from the Warwick Rowers Website for just £14.99. On the site you'll also find loads of other items including photo sets, film downloads, signed limited editions and picture profiles of some the guys.

A proportion of every sale is donated to Sport Allies, a charity that aims to combat homophobia in team sports.

More of our Interview with The Warwick Rowers and their 2017 Video

 

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