On Saturday 8th April 2017 I realised one of my dreams and photographed Saracens v Harlequins rugby match as an accredited photographer at Wembley Stadium. I had access to the pitch sitting behind the advertising banners and between the loud speakers! There were a number of England players from both teams and the match was set to be fast and frantic with a lot of strong players on both sides.
The lighting was awful with one side of the stadium bathed in string sunlight whilst the other side was set in shadow. After selecting a spot behind and to the left of the goal I was able to shoot into the shaded areas and produce some good shots. Shooting into the sunny areas was too harsh and resulted in poor image quality. Sitting on a stool with my 500mm f4 on a monopod and my 70-200 I was ready for action, or so I thought. At this level of rugby the game is so fast with the ball moving between the players at a tremendous pace. As the players came towards the goal, passing to each other whilst weaving about in an erratic fashion proved extremely difficult for me to follow with my 500mm lens. Trying to predict where the ball was going, so I could at least anticipate and frame the shot, proved challenging with more failures than successes. Welcome to the art of photographing professional rugby!
Let's look at a few successful images I managed to capture.
Mako Vunipola escapes the tackle at Saracens v Harlequins rugby match
Full on tackle at the Saracens v Harlequins rugby match
Mike Brown of Harlequins is going down
Chris Robshaw of Harlequins with the ball
Mako Vunipola receives attention on pitch
Tim Evans of Harlequins takes a penalty kick
Dave Ward of Saracens pulls down a Harlequin player
Owen Farrell takes a penalty kick
My thanks go to Mark Pain who organised the day. Mark is a very successful sports photographer who also runs a sports photography school specialising in similar events. I suggest you have a look at his website www.sportsphotographyschool.co.uk and see the range of events he covers. For anybody who wishes to step up to the next level with their photography, Mark is the man you should contact.
Equipment used: Nikon D4 x 2 bodies, Nikkor 500mm f/4D AF-S IF-ED VR, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VR IF-ED Mk II, Gitzo GM5561T mono pod,
For more images of the Saracens v Harlequins rugby match please see my website here.