Well, we're right in the middle of the week between Christmas and New Year when we're never quite sure what day it is and often what time it is. ickledot's currently selecting his favourite shots of 2016, chosen sometimes for photographic reasons and sometime because the image brings with it a happy memory. In this post he's concentrating on the women's and girls' game in the county, 2016 being a year in which it's gone from strength to strength.
Taking it more or less in chronological order, the first competitive action of the year came with the county's senior side, shown above in a game against East Midlands. They just failed to find their way through to a West London final through a narrow defeat to Lancashire at Barnsley Rugby Club. Shortly after this bruising encounter though, ickledot got to photograph his first international rugby (apart from the World Cup as a paying spectator). This was a sevens match against Samoa one Friday evening at Moortown Rugby Club. The visitors were highly impressive that night!
There were a number of girls tournaments played towards the end of season 2015-16 but ickledot's going to leave a shot from one of them until the end as it happens to be his favourite from the year across all aspects of the game. Build up the tension so to speak.
So, moving to the current season, 2016-17, ickledot saw another first in photographing a University game: Leeds University v Leeds Beckett in the famous Varsity match. As described at the time, it was close with Beckett coming out on top right at the end. A number of girls from both sides also turn out for a club which ickledot photographed several times in the Autumn of the year: West Park Leeds. Safe to say they are the most accomplished club in West Yorkshire at the moment, they play a fast and skilful game. However, a number of clubs from other regions do the same so they've not had it all their own way so far. Below is a shot of winger Reanne in a typically determined mood.
In the final months of the year the county representative sides kicked off once more with the Under 15 and Under 18 teams achieving an impressive clean sweep of victories in the three matches they each played. Below are a couple of action shots of the Under 15s at Tynedale and Vale of Lune Rugby Clubs.
To the final image then. Why is it a favourite? Well, ickledot had been trying to get one of those swallow-like-leap-for-the-line type tries for ages, years even. Coaches probably try to discourage that type of thing as it can cause injury or a last second dropping of the ball. In most cases the actual touching down of a try can be quite mundane visually in comparison to the lead up. But the old swallow dive is a favourite of the newspapers and to have one or two in a portfolio must be a good thing. So, ickledot had been waiting and hoping for ages and then suddenly two came along within a couple of weeks of each other. The second was at Twickenham on the day that Yorkshire Under 20s played in their final. It was a great score although it came late in a game which was long since won and it didn't involve a Yorkshire team.
But the first was wonderful in that it came most unexpectedly during an Under 15 club tournament at Old Brodleians Rugby Club near Halifax. Apparently the girl concerned has been shown this picture, her reaction being that she just fell over. A modest response, ickledot thinks, given the serene look on her face as she seems to fly through the air towards the line; an expression which contrasts markedly with the banshee-like open mouth of any man scoring such a try. There will be a number of other 'best of 2016' images posted either here or on other social media but, unless something ultra-dramatic happens at Doncaster on New Year's Eve, this is officially ickledot's favourite rugby shot of 2016!