10/17/2011 06:25 EDT | Updated 12/17/2011 05:12 EST

Rugby player shaves 'wildman' beard to raise money for cancer research

VICTORIA - Canadian rugby flanker Adam Kleeberger, who became known worldwide as "Grizzly Adam" for his wildman beard at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, has had the unruly facial hair shaved off for charity.

Kleeberger, 27, was cheered on by hundreds of students Monday as the beard came off at the University of Victoria to raise funds for cancer research.

He said he's also trying to raise relief aid for the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, which was devastated by an earthquake earlier this year.

Kleeberger's beard was about 30 centimetres long and he resembled the wild-haired Yosemite Sam, the hapless gold miner from Bugs Bunny cartoons.

People were touching Kleeberger's beard as he waited to sit himself in a chrome and black leather barber-style chair that awaited him on the makeshift stage outside of the university's Student Union Building.

"Somebody said to me the modern-day beard is the urban antlers. I like than one," said Kleeberger, who described his bearded look as "lumberjack."

The clean-shaven Kleeberger was all smiles after the event, saying he actually felt a cool breeze on his face.

"It definitely feels cold," he said. "My head feels lighter, too."

During Canada's run at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Kleeberger's beard became the wild and woolly face of the Canadian squad and a symbol of the team's determined style.

The Kleeberger shaving will form part of an upcoming episode of CBC's "Rick Mercer Report."

Mercer was the first person to take an electric razor to Kleeberger's beard, shaving a wide racing stripe from his chin to his neck.

"I never used one of these in my life," said Mercer as the razor buzzed. "I sheared a sheep once."

Kleeberger's shaving resembled a sequel to the movie Edward Scissorhands as Mercer and professional stylist Matt Conrad sculpted various looks from the ample beard.

Large piles of hair lay below Kleeberger's chair as the scissors snipped and the razor kept on buzzing.

Kleeberger's beard quickly turned into a long Fu Manchu moustache, which was eventually braided and topped off with two red bow ties.

Mercer sprayed Ketchup to stage a bloody accident, but appears Kleeberger wasn't even nicked. Much safer than a rugby game.

Note to readers: CORRECTS typo in 'rugby' in headline