Rugby has not been featured at the Olympics since the 1924 summers games. But, the seven-a-side version will be played in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. “7s” (as it is called) is played with 7 players per side instead of 15 and features shorter matches. 7s tournaments are traditionally summertime events (sometimes called festivals) and are known for having more of a relaxed atmosphere than fifteen-a-side games.
Here in Kansas City, the Kansas City Blues (and of late, the University of Missouri- Kansas City club team) – sponsor 7s tournaments. The Blues are an interesting example of Rugby in the states. The team is made up of men from all walks of life. The active roster boasts a range in player’s ages from 19 – 41, consisting of students, doctors, lawyers, sales professionals, corporate executives, teachers, and more. The Blues lead a very demanding lifestyle, adding 2 practices a week and outside training to their busy work schedules and families.
The 7s competition is spirited with teams ranging from organized (like the Blues or UMKC) to college rugby clubs, to employer-, or bar-, sponsored teams. Several photography challenges are presented in shooting summertime rugby.
The field is large so it is hard to cover all the action from one end zone or the other, even with my 500mm f / 4 lens. That lens is great to cover half the field, is very fast and the focus is sharp and precise.
That lens, however, is too big when the action gets close so I usually have a second body with my 70-200mm (either the f / 4 or the 2.8 should be wonderful). The 70-200mm is also good to roam the sidelines and shoot across the width of the field into the action rather than navigate length of field shots. The Rugby action is fast enough at times that it warrants shutter speeds of at least 1/1000th second and the glare is substantial enough, that care should be taken to shoot with the sun behind and consider use of a polarizer filter, or adjust for glare in post processing (I like the polarization filter in Nik Color Efex Pro). I usually shoot shutter priority, no slower than 1/1000th second, and ISO 400 to 640 depending on the light to achieve f stops in the 6.3 to 9.0 range.
Like most sports, for me, shooting the action is great, but capturing the emotion is better. For emphasis, I love the new radial filter in Lightroom 5 to provide a highlight on the primary subject in the shot and a slight vignette to the rest of the framed shot.
Google Rugby in your town and go out and give it (photographing a tournament) a try!
Thanks for reading my blog . . . . Mark