As you might have guessed, been out photographing rugby again this weekend. Two games, one on each day. On Saturday it was to West Park Leeds once more to see their game against Knottingley. As on a previous occasion recently the weather was dull and misty; not entirely light even in mid-afternoon. Although the teams seemed evenly matched in the first quarter of the game, by half time West Park had built a substantial lead. This remained through a somewhat patchy second half. Curiously enough, the opening stages of Sunday's game, Yorkshire Under 20s' opening fixture of the 2014-15 campaign against Cheshire, were similar in that both sides scored tries early before Yorkshire began piling on the points, coming out victors by 34-7.
I've written previously about my choice of position for games, spending the bulk of my time behind the try line of the end my chosen team is attacking, in anticipation of a try. This is fine although it does leave one missing out on certain important aspects of the game, most notably the lineout.
Followers of the game will know well the format of these plays but, for those less familiar, the lineout looks rather strange. It has evolved somewhat over the years but basically a set number of players (the number chosen by the team that has won the right to throw in) line up one behind the other with the opposition similarly lined and a gap between. The throwing team agrees (without letting the opposition know) whether the throw will be short, long or somewhere between but the rules say that its trajectory has to be exactly between the two lines of players.
Once the ball has been thrown, players can be lifted by team mates to gain height in order to catch the ball or tip it to a colleague. This relatively new tactic give the lineout its drama and spectacle.
Obviously, seated at either end of the pitch, one doesn't obtain a great view of a lineout. So, this weekend I deliberately spent time on the sidelines and was rewarded with a reasonably good shot in each match. During the West Park Leeds match I was right behind one lineout when the hooker (thrower) remarked something about making sure I didn't get his bum in the shot (unavoidable really). Of course, if you're shooting high from a low position there's a danger of having the light of the sky giving a silhouette effect. This happened to a certain extent with the shot from the Yorkshire game.
Thought I'd also mention a little bit about kicking for goal. Whether it be from scoring a try (like after a touchdown in American football) or from a penalty. Advice about sports photography usually says that its important to crop tight around players but here are two shots where I deliberately let in more of the scene around the kicker. With the shot of the Yorkshire kicker, Chris Bell, I wanted to get the reaction of people in the crowd in addition to the player himself. Having shot Simon Towler of West Park quite a few times before, this time I opted to go wider in order to show him and the ball between the posts in the same image.