Rugby at Allianz Park
Back in May I had the opportunity thanks to Nikon to photograph an Aviva Premiership rugby match between Saracens and Worcester at Allianz Park. We had full press accreditation so were able to shoot from the pitchside in front of the advertising hoardings, enabling us to get really close to the action. It was a battle of top versus bottom, but the game was not as one sided as many thought it would be. Saracens had many international stars on the pitch including England backs Owen Farrell and Chris Ashton. It is only when you see these players close up in the flesh that you realise just how big they are. Even the backs, traditionally smaller, faster players are over six feet tall and probably weigh around 15 stone!
Rugby is an incredibly fast moving, physical game, and although I am used to shooting fast moving subjects photographing dogs, they tend to run in straight lines. Rugby players, however, do not as they try to avoid being tackled. This adds an extra challenge and you need to have cameras and lenses that will focus very quickly. We were fortunate that the weather was bright, sunny and dry and the job was more comfortable due to the fact that Saracens play on an artificial pitch.
I shot the first half from the end of the pitch behind the Saracens end, having expected Saracens to be playing in the opposite direction. However, I was still able to get some good shots as Worcester scored a try and put Saracens under pressure for much of the half. For the second half I moved to the side of the pitch midway between the 22 and the goal line, and I think the shots were better from this position, although it was harder work tracking the play as they were running across my field of vision, rather than towards me.
All in all it was a fabulous day, despite the six hours travelling to and from the stadium. I'm pleased with many of the shots from the day, and here are just a few of the shots from the game. What amazes me still about rugby is that despite spending 80 minutes knocking ten bells out of each other, at the end of the game there are handshakes, jokes, and they will all meet in the bar for a beer afterwards!
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