Before moving onto the second weekend of action in this new year of 2019, I thought we’d take a look back at my shot highlights of 2018, before they disappear from memory. Those of you who’ve read this blog before will recall me writing something similar at the end of 2017 and Adobe Lightroom tells me |’ve actually been selecting rugby favourites at the end of each year (sometimes season as well) since 2012.
My initial trawl brought me a long list of 61 which, coincidentally, was about the number of matches I photographed during the year. There was a reasonable gender balance along with a fairly equal number of action shots and portraits. Before selecting my top three I put all 61 onto an Instagram Story and Instagram TV slideshow.
It was very difficult boiling the whole year down to three pictures but in the end I referred to the best representatives of the most memorable matches, in two cases at least. Second equal were two portraits, the first one being from what was my muddiest, wettest game of the year: Harrogate Ladies against York RI Ladies. The second was a portrait of Ilkley’s Harry Wales, looking particularly gruesome at the end of an encounter with Harrogate. The injury had initially occurred during a previous game but another 80 minutes of play had caused the blood to flow once more.
My favourite game of the year was also my first full international: England Women against Canada, played at Castle Park, Doncaster. I could have chosen a number of images from this game; action and portraits before, during and after. In the end I went for a determined run by England and Saracens prop, Hannah Botterman.
Judging by the reaction to these three pictures on Instagram, people agreed with two of my three choices. The one of Harry is by far my most popular Instagram post ever, with around 2700 ‘likes’ so far. The Harrogate Ladies shot was also well received (over 800) but the England one didn’t do quite as well. Perhaps people ike portraits more than action or maybe people have seen in before on Instagram too recently. I don’t know.
I know I’m biased but I like them all as they summon up some of my happier rugby memories from a tumultuous 2018.