+
upworthy

rugby

via The Guardian / YouTube

Beluga whales are affectionately known as sea canaries for their song-like vocalizations, and their name is the Russian word for "white."

They are sociable animals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. However, they are naturally reticent to interact with humans, although some solitary belugas are known to approach boats.

Once such beluga that's believed to live in Norwegian waters is so comfortable among humans that it played fetch with a rugby ball.


It's believed that the researchers in the video are on a South African vessel known as the Dinah Explorer. The video first appeared on Facebook where the poster was certain the researchers are South Africans celebrating their team's 2019 Rugby World Cup victory.

"Beluga Whale celebrating the Springboks victory somewhere close to the South Pole," Kowen wrote in the caption to the Facebook post. "Spot the Cape Town build Gemini Craft and the South African accents."

RELATED: Speech pathologist teaches her dog to use a soundboard and now it communicates in sentences

Some believe the whale could be the same one that caught the public's attention earlier this year for harassing Norwegian fisherman. The whale was wearing a harness that read "Equipment St. Petersburg" so many thought it was, at some point, trained by the Russian military. The harness has since been removed.

The whale went viral for fetching a phone that was dropped in the water by an eager fan.

RELATED: A brutally honest kindergarten teacher shares five reasons why she quit the profession

"We laid down on the dock to look at it and hopefully get the chance to pat it," Ina Mansika told The Dodo. "I had forgotten to close my jacket pocket and my phone fell in the ocean. We assumed it would be gone forever, until the whale dove back down and came back a few moments later with my phone in its mouth!"

The whale returned the phone, but sadly it was no longer functional after falling into the frigid water.

There were tears, laughs, and balloons after the Brazilian women's rugby team finished playing on Aug. 8, 2016, at the Rio Olympics.

But none of that had anything to do with the team snagging a medal (Team Brazil finished ninth, after all).

It had to do with one couple's very special moment.


Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images.

Player Isadora Cerullo was brought to tears because she'd just been proposed to by her girlfriend, Marjorie Enya.

Cerullo had just worked her magic on the rugby pitch, and Enya is the manager at the Olympic venue where the women's matches went down.

So the scene really couldn't have been more fitting.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

The couple, who both live in Sao Paulo, have been together for two years.

Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images.

And under the bright lights of Deodoro Stadium, they decided to make it official.

Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images.

"I know rugby people are amazing and they would embrace it," Enya said about the proposal, according to the BBC. "She is the love of my life."

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

Two women kissing on the world stage shows just how far we've come when it comes to LGBTQ rights and visibility.

Throughout the past 15 years, marriage equality has crept across much of the globe, predominantly in Europe and the Americas. Currently, same-sex marriage is legal nationwide in 21 countries (and counting).

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

But the global spread of marriage equality doesn't tell the whole story.

Progress usually results in pushback — and it has certainly, and unfortunately, been the case when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ people.

Homosexuality is still banned in far more places than where same-sex marriage is recognized. In several countries, it's punishable by death.

And while many Americans celebrated the Supreme Court decision that legalized marriage equality nationwide, a global push for more tolerance by the Obama administration may be causing more harm than good in certain regions of the globe, as it's "triggered people’s defense mechanism" against progress.

In the U.S., the rise of costly, transphobic "bathroom bills" shows how an unintended consequence of progress is oftentimes emboldened bigotry. And in Brazil — where Enya and Cerullo's engagement was largely met with elation and where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013 — an alarming rise in anti-LGBTQ violence has put many officials on edge.

The current global climate of LGBTQ rights and protections is far more complicated than many people realize.

Despite the challenges that remain, however, Cerullo and Enya's beautiful engagement reflects a world that's, overall, becoming increasingly open to LGBTQ love.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

And the power of that moment certainly wasn't lost on Enya, who said she wasn't nervous to pop the question so publicly.  

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

As she noted, "I wanted to show people that love wins."

It seems like she did just that.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

True
Paramount Pictures Ben Hur

It's no secret that we all have obstacles we need to overcome in life.

There will always be ups and downs. That we know for sure. But, sometimes, unexpected lefts and rights pop up and try to throw us even more off track. When those types of moments hit, that's when our resolve is truly put to the test.

That's the type of perseverance on full display at one of the world's most celebrated sporting events — the Olympic Games. For years and years, athletes go through blood, sweat, and tears for a few precious moments of pure competition. If anything, that struggle to achieve greatness is what makes sports so dang beautiful.


But some members of Team USA had to endure a few extra hurdles on their way to glory.

Meet four amazing athletes who are incredible examples of perseverance.

And if their trials bring to mind any challenging experience you've gone through — athletic or otherwise — Paramount would love for you to share your story on social media with the hashtag #MyGreatestVictory. It's in honor of their upcoming movie, "Ben-Hur," the story of an iconic character who never gave up despite facing enormous challenges.

1. Lopez Lomong, track and field

Photo by Paul Merca/Wikimedia Commons.

As one of thousands of refugees known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan," Lopez Lomong was kidnapped by soldiers and imprisoned in a brutal camp when he was only 6 years old. They were going to force him to become a child soldier.

With the help of some friends on the outside, Lomong managed to escape. He ended up running for his life for three days and three nights toward a refugee camp in Kenya — a place where he would live for 10 years.

Eventually, Catholic Charities got involved and helped Lomong move stateside. Once he got here, he started running again. But this time, it was to represent his new homeland. He became so good and such an inspiration that, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he was honored as the flag-bearer for the United States.

Eight years later, Lomong is still running as strong as ever.

2. Kayla Harrison, judo

Screenshot via Olympic/YouTube.

At the 2012 London games, Kayla Harrison became the first American to win gold in judo. Her journey there, however, started off with a heartbreaking circumstance.

In an interview with ESPN, Harrison opened up about how she was sexually abused for years by her coach, Daniel Doyle, when she was just starting out in the sport. The abuse left deep emotional scars and led to thoughts of suicide.

With support from her mom and a psychologist, Harrison moved to Boston to train in a new environment and, in the process, channeled her experience to become an absolute force to be reckoned with — both on and off the mat. In addition to being a badass athlete, she started a foundation helping other survivors of sexual abuse.

Harrison told ESPN, "There's nothing in this life that's going to be harder than what I've been through already. I may lose. But no one will break me."

Come this August, the entire country will be rooting for her to repeat her Olympic success.

3. Jillion Potter, rugby

Screenshot via World Rugby/YouTube.

Jillion Potter is the definition of perseverance.

In 2010, while playing for Team USA, she got into a fluke accident and broke her neck in a game against Canada. Doctors said she would never play again. But you know what? She came back as strong as ever.

But then another tragedy hit in 2014. She was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer and needed both chemotherapy and radiation to treat it. Again, it didn't stop her from competing in the sport she loves so much. With the support of her loved ones, she beat cancer and was just recently announced as a member of the 2016 team.

In an interview with CNN, Potter sums everything up by relating her experience to her sport: "You get tackled, you always have to get up off the ground, just like in life."

Well said, Jillion!

4. Daryl Homer, fencing

Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.

Daryl Homer is trying to make history by becoming the first American male to win gold in fencing. But he also acknowledges that history isn't quite on his side.

He told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "I’m from the Bronx and most people from the Bronx aren’t fencing. On top of that, most people don’t see African-Americans fencing. On top of that, there’s still the perception Americans aren’t the leaders in the fencing world."

But none of that has slowed down Homer one bit. Throughout his life, he's persevered to become the absolute best — in life and in fencing. He's a fighter and one that won't back down from a challenge.

In a piece for The Player's Tribune, he said, "To most people, I probably don’t look like a fencer. But on the strip, none of that matters. It’s two people facing off for survival."

These athletes are shining examples of the power of the human spirit.

They dedicated themselves to their ultimate goal and never let any roadblock steer them away. And even if they don't medal at the upcoming games, there's no question that they've already achieved victory.

Have a perseverance story of your own? What are some of the victories you've experienced in your own life?

In honor of Paramount's newest film, "Ben-Hur" — a timeless character who knows a thing or two about determination — Paramount is asking for people to share their stories about rising up and overcoming adversity. They'll share their favorites on their social media channels.

Share the moments, big or small, where you were able to overcome adversity and persevere, with the hashtag #MyGreatestVictory.

Rugby is no joke. Especially in South Africa.

The team sport is fast and aggressive. And to the untrained eye, it's primal and chaotic. And while the game has gained some recent traction in the U.S., around the world it's quite common. In South Africa, competitive rugby is more than a game: It's an industry and a tradition.



South Africa is home to the Springboks (the national rugby team) and several provincial rugby unions, each fielding a professional rugby team and amateur clubs. The country also fields six professional teams for the Super Rugby competition where clubs compete with teams from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Argentina.

It's a big business, and home or away, national pride is always on the line.

But, sadly, something else is all too common in South Africa: Hate crimes, specifically against the LGBT community.

Despite having a progressive constitution (even lauded by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and legal protections against discrimination on the books, progress has been slow.

Stigma, negative stereotypes, and homophobic violence persist, making it difficult for LGBT people to live freely or pursue personal and professional passions without fear of harassment or attack.

Protestors opposing a proposal to remove the term "sexual orientation" from section 9(3) of the South African Constitution, which prohibits unfair discrimination. The proposal did not pass. Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images.

However, one group is celebrating South Africa's rugby tradition while dismantling tired stereotypes about gay men.

Meet the Jozi Cats.

What a handsome bunch of guys at Saturday's practice. Love you guys! 🏉🏉💜 #rugby #gay rugby #jozicats #handsome #sporty #boys
A photo posted by Jozi Cats (@jozicatsrugby) on


They're South Africa's first competitive gay and inclusive rugby team.

Based in Johannesburg, the Jozi Cats hope to join the ranks of other gay rugby cubs around the world and compete in the World Outgames (an Olympic-style event for LGBT athletes) and the Bingham Cup, an annual tournament for gay rugby clubs. The Jozi Cats would be the first team from the entire continent of Africa to participate in the latter.

But to stay competitive and offer opportunities for gay men to pursue the sport, they had to recruit some new players.

Jozi Cats player and head of Havas Public Relations in South Africa Chris Verrijdt realized the diversity and inclusivity in their ranks. Many of the players didn't fit the "conventional" mold or expectation people might have for a gay sports league.

Larry Viljoen, tighthead prop for the Jozi Cats. Image via Havas WW South Africa/YouTube.

"...they just are gay dudes who happen to like rugby," he told Upworthy.

Verrijdt and the team wanted a way to challenge long-held notions of masculinity and homosexuality, while recruiting some new talent. And since their publicity budget was nonexistent, raising a few eyebrows along the way couldn't hurt.

With an idea in the works, Verrijdt set up a shoot with the team and a photographer.

In a behind-the-scenes video for the campaign, the players described their care and responsibility to get this right — not just for the team but for other LGBT people in South Africa.

"We're running a campaign to make awareness of people who are homosexual within our society, to have courage to actually step out," said the team's all-rounder Chris Herbst, who actually came out to his friends and family by participating in the campaign.

Members of the team pose for photographer Werner Prinsloo. Image via Havas WW South Africa/YouTube.

The finished product — real players reclaiming derogatory gay slurs — is shocking but drives home a very important message.

No matter how the world sees you...

Photo by Werner Prinsloo for Havas WW South Africa/Jozi Cats, used with permission.

Or how you see yourself.....

Photo by Werner Prinsloo for Havas WW South Africa/Jozi Cats, used with permission.

Safe and welcoming spaces do exist.

This is Chris Herbst. Photo by Werner Prinsloo for Havas WW South Africa/Jozi Cats, used with permission.

And there are plenty of people who will respect and support you just the way you are.

Photo by Werner Prinsloo for Havas WW South Africa/Jozi Cats, used with permission.

Or as center Teveshan Kuni said:

So far, the response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We have just hit over 1,000 Likes on our page and the video of the shoot has been viewed in over 126 countries, " Verrijdt said.

But it's not just an international hit, the campaign is actually an effective recruiting tool. New players are inquiring about the team and coming out to practices and play touch rugby matches on Thursday nights.

The Jozi Cats at work. GIF via Havas WW South Africa/YouTube.

As happy as Verrijdt and the Jozi Cats are about their brush with viral fame, this was always about something bigger.

The Jozi Cats have always been about been about making connections and sharing competitive rugby with other gay men and allies. This project, however unconventional, is helping them do just that.

"Who knows the extent of what historical moments we are creating here for gay rugby and social inclusion," Verrijdt said.

"Perhaps Jozi Cats will produce South Africa's first openly gay sportsman? Which for a country with one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, is amazing that we haven’t been able to do so. Yet."

Photo by Werner Prinsloo for Havas WW South Africa/Jozi Cats, used with permission.