Rugby nudity a tradional rite of passage

Cris Monetta scored his first try since he started playing rugby for the Prince George Gnats two years ago, carrying the ball 10 yards into the end zone.
That was the easy part.
Living up to the zulu tradition of rugby at the end of the game was much more difficult for the 29-year-old veteran. It meant the six-foot-one, 230-pound Monetta had to strip off his shirt, shorts and underwear for a naked streak from one end of the field to the other.
But at least by that time, the hailstorm that pelted down on the field at Kelly Road earlier Saturday at the Gnats icebreaker tournament had subsided and the sun was out. But still, there was a cool wind blowing out of the north and it had a chilling effect on certain body parts not usually exposed to the elements.
"That was was probably the fastest I've run all day," laughed Monetta, who plays the No. 8 position.
"It's an international thing, you go anywhere in the world and they know what a zulu is. Sometimes you have to be careful and keep your head on a swivel; someone will pop up behind you and take you down."
That somebody was Brandon Skaar of the Prince Rupert Seamen. Before Monetta had a chance to get dressed again, Skaar plowed into him and tackled him to the turf, completing the ritual.
"We put in a lot of work to play a game just because we like it and you have to keep things fun and that's just part of it," said Monetta. "I turn 30 years old in a few weeks and I'm just getting my zulu -maybe that's not my highest moment ever but it feels good and it's just going to make the team close.
"I think Troy McKenzie spotted me and I had a bit of space on the outside and the first man came in kind of short, so I was able to step (around) him and the next two just bounced off. I was too close to stop there."
The Gnats went on to defeat the Seamen 29-10 and Prince George followed that up with a 26-14 win over the Terrace Northmen, the defending provincial club champions.
The Seamen are back on the scene in the Central Interior Rugby Union after a five-year absence due to a lack of players. There's been a resurgence of interest in the high school ranks at Charles Hays secondary school, which now has senior boys, junior boys and girls teams, and that's starting to have a trickle-down effect on the Prince Rupert Rugby Club. The Seamen now have a 22-player squad.
"The youth program is getting really big now, it's getting a lot more funding," said club president Kody Curry.  "We could only travel with 10 this time, we have a lot of injuries right now, but it's good to be a part of it."
The Seamen open their season June 3 in Prince George against the Gnats.
"We've tried to schedule it so Terrace is playing in Williams Lake the same week we play here and that way we can share players if we need to," said Curry. "Terrace has 50 guys, they have big numbers, and we definitely steal from them as much as we can."
Kaiden Whitles, 20, playing his third-ever game for the Seamen on Saturday, also scored his first try, from about midfield mark in a game against Williams Lake. He also lived up his zulu obligations.
The icebreaker became a four-team affair when the Penticton Harlequins' bus broke down Friday just outside of Kamloops and they were forced had to cancel. That left it up to the Gnats, Seamen, Northmen and Williams Lake Rustlers to get together for their first outdoor games of the season. All four teams will play each other in the CIRU. The season starts Saturday in Williams Lake when the Rustlers host the Gnats.
"When you're winning it's always fun," said Gnats fullback Richie Appiah, 27, now in his 11th rugby season. "This is the first time I've seen the Gnats actually play a running game. Most times they play a tight forward game, but today we're playing shorter games, (two 12-minute halves instead of two 15-minute halves). The backs actually scored got to score some tries and it's exciting.
"I was surprised to see that was the first try for Cris and he did a great job. I don't know what was worse, that he was running naked or the guy trying to tackle him."


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