Rugby Stories Contest Winners

Last week we asked for your best rugby stories, and you came through with some great ones. We took an internal poll and these were the two that most of us cited:

From Carly:

Oberlin College's Women's Rugby team is an inspiration. They're a club team, have had only sporadic coaching, and are totally kept up by the love of the game/devotion of the players. One of my most prized possession is a hoodie that says: "OBERLIN COLLEGE WOMEN'S RUGBY: Bleed More Than Once a Month". Cheers, ladies.

From Tom in GA:

For all the strange things that happen in American sports, few match the infamous in-match digital rectal exam that occurred in a rugby league game nine years ago. Condensed story to follow:

During an Australian professional league game in 2001 Tongan-born player John Hopoate shoved his finger into the backside of players after being tackled. As one of the violated players said after a punishment hearing, "There was pressure there. I know he wasn't doing it accidentally. He was definitely pushing. I was disgusted. I couldn't believe it."

Click here for a video of one of the incidents. Not for the squeamish.

Congratulations! You've both won a copy of Invictus, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. We'll be in touch about your prizes.

[See Also: "The Most Frightening Dance You'll Ever See," "The Rugby Rivalry that Brought New Zealand to the Brink of Civil War" and "A Beginner's Rugby Quiz"]

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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