Olympic rugby player rocks incredible mullet.
Slate’s homepage editors spend a lot of time looking for editorial photos to post on our website. These searches sometimes lead to unexpected results: random, confusing, and intriguing photos that don’t belong on the homepage but are too good not to share. Every week we share the strangest photo of the wires.
What search term was that found in Getty?
What did you hope to find?
A photo of the US rugby sevens team competing in Tokyo. While American teams do not excel in rugby union – the conventional version with 15-player teams playing for 80 minutes – they compete against each other in the sevens version, in which seven-player teams play airy 14-minute games start, proven to be more successful. However, the US men failed to win a medal in Tokyo after Britain made a wide comeback in the quarterfinals to knock them out of the competition. The US eventually finished sixth, with Fiji bringing home the gold, New Zealand in second place, and Argentina in third.
What did you find instead?
A luscious mullet attached to a stocky American rugby player who is lifted in the air as part of a deployment where players can lift a teammate to make a catch. Long curls cascade from his neat brush cut as he reaches for the ball in front of him. In contrast to the other players in the shot, he lets his mane flow freely, with a dramatic effect.
What is the actual backstory here?
The owner of this mullet is Joe Schroeder, a first-time Olympian from Indiana. Schröder had a winding road to the games. He played rugby throughout high school but dropped out of college because Trine University, where he graduated with a civil engineering degree, had no team. Instead, Schroeder became a cheerleader in his sophomore year. In his new sport, he worked on increasing his upper body strength and improving his balance, which is critical to both cheerleading throwing and rugby.
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After graduating from college, Schroeder returned to rugby and played on a club team in Columbus, Ohio, where he was spotted by one of the US national team’s coaches. Schroeder represented the USA in the World Rugby Sevens Series before joining Team USA in Tokyo at the Olympic Games.
Why the mullet?
Schröder’s distinctive hairstyle has a deeper meaning for him and his family. In 2020, Schroeder’s younger brother Will suddenly died at the age of 22. Schroeder stated that Will “loved rocking mullets. That was his hairstyle. … just to honor him a little, [the mullet] comes on the back. So he’ll have my back ”at the games.
The Olympic sevens event was a bittersweet affair for many players. Schroeder’s teammate Carlin Isles also competed in honor of his younger brother Charles, who was shot and killed last year. Two of Fiji’s players paid tribute to deceased family members after winning the gold.
Why is this the weird photo of the week?
While Team USA didn’t win a gold medal in rugby, Joe Schroeder’s golden mullet and the message behind it are definitely medal-worthy.