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Topless models raise fund for New Zealand rugby club

A popular rugby club in New Zealand has been facing criticism for using topless models at a fundraising event.

The stunt led to calls for the New Zealand Rugby Union to confront sexist attitudes within the game. The Auckland University Rugby Football Club hired semi-naked women to parade around at its annual pretest luncheon

The last week event was also attended by former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Former All Black captain Murray Mexted, who delivered the keynote address, described the women who stripped to raise money as 'PR girls for rugby', The New Zealand Herald reported.

Mexted said the women were topless for most of the event, but their breasts were body-painted in the colours of the club. 'It was tastefully done,' he added.

Mexted defended using topless women, saying, 'It's light-hearted entertainment, there's no downside'.

'It was a magnificent affair and 826 people attended. It was put on by a rugby club for rugby people, raising money for rugby,' he added.

However, Auckland Sexual Abuse Helpline clinical manager Kathryn McPhillips said the event raised concerns.

'The dangerous thing is it reinforces all those attitudes about rugby, alcohol and women and that they can have young women's bodies for pleasure because of who they are,' she said.

'We really need to be thinking about these things and where it leads and what kind of messages it gives.'

Sexual abuse victims' advocate Louise Nicholas called on rugby administrators to take action before the World Cup.

'I'm in favour of rugby, and I'm in favour of fundraising. But do they really need to get women to strip?' she asked.

'We are a rugby nation, and the Rugby Union needs to step up. This sort of thing goes on in strip clubs, not Eden Park.'

The university rugby club has produced many of New Zealand's finest rugby players, including former All Black captains Sean Fitzpatrick and David Kirk.

Club newsletters from previous years describe the luncheon as 'world infamous' and a place where participants can 'drink as heavily as possible'.

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