Girls rugby in pictures

9 Jan

[ezcol_1third]I’ve drifted into the role of photographer for Sheffield Swans, playing here at Doncaster on Sunday. I haven’t done much sports snapping but the basics are in theory simple. To freeze the action I need speeds of at least one five-hundredth. Re aperture, my main lenses give me f/2.8 at all focal lengths but I don’t go that wide when low depth of field would mean shots with poor focus.

So I need 1/500th exposures and apertures no wider than f/5.6.  On dull days like this that means having ISO high at between 800 and 1200, with inevitable digital noise,  especially when cropping.

Tips from experienced sports photographers?[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end][/ezcol_2third_end]


I used to play rugby union as a schoolboy – hooker and fly half – but never excelled. The girls game can be really exciting with plenty of good runs, though as a photographer you seldom have time simply to enjoy the flow. Only after the match, back at home in front of my computer, do I really get to appreciate the beauty, the poetry in motion.


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Cat, seen in the opening shot converting a try,  is one of two Swans forwards – Phoebe is out with a broken ankle – who overcome small stature with skill, speed and above all sheer grit. Here she swoops in, at centre-right with team captain Hazel beside her, to seize the ball and make the run.



Post match lessons have to be analysed immediately after. One aspect of the fact few girls are up for this sport is that a full fifteen can only be made up by combining players from Sheffield and Doncaster. They train separately, mid week, but tactics are discussed after the match – on the field as here and over refreshments in the Concourse. Simon, the Sheffield coach, is well liked but – as this picture suggests – doesn’t always buy the hard luck stories.



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