The 2013 Rugby League World Cup was heralded with much finery, glitter, pomp and circumstance at the Millenium Stadium on the 26th October where Australia (the tournament favourites) played hosts England.
England’s sprightly opening with composed structured play mirrored the opening ceremonies energy and sheen. Alas, Australia ran out eventual winners 28 : 20 to dampen the England fans enthusiasm.
What greeted Caught In Action, for the Fiji v Ireland match at Rochdale on the evening of the 28th can best be described as a downpour of the stair rod variety. Ah, a chance to practice big rain shots, much employed by wedding photographers. Thanks, but I’d rather not. Thank goodness for Nike gortex jackets which kept me dry whilst the Canon’s were protected by Acqua Tech.
As horrific as the weather became the more exhilarating and hard-hitting the Fijians played. Whilst their supporters choral singing will linger in my memory long after the tournament. Fiji triumphed 32 : 14 with fleet footed winger Akuila Uate running in a hat-trick.
Baring in mind the prevailing weather conditions and the floodlights, which can sometimes be patchy or if too high create shadows where eye sockets should be seen I decided I would process some of my personal shots as black and white. Deliberately ignoring noise ninja and allowing the grain to prevail to create gritty images and using the backlights almost like rim lights in a fashion shoot.
The World Cup really caught the public’s imagination from Workington down to Bristol crowds proved to be at full capacity. Records being set at Huddersfield where England beat Ireland 42 : 0. although the second half proved less than remarkable.
In spite of the nation embracing the sport England unfortunately didn’t make the final. Being beaten by the holders in the dying seconds as New Zealand rolled the dice at Wembley.
During the tournament the sport lost one of its finest exponents and all time good guy, Steve Prescott, whose passing was marked by the Scotland captain, Danny Brough wearing a specially emblazoned shirt bearing Steve’s name.
The final at Old Trafford between the two Anzac nations also created a crowd record for rugby held at the stadium. But proved a hurdle too far for the holders who lost their crown to Australia 2 : 34. Sonny Bill Williams, the New Zealand second rower who had put Papua New Guinea to the sword at Headingley, with a devastating hat-trick could not repeat his heroics against the green and golds with the Man of the Match award going to Australia’s stand off Jonathan Thurston.
As always the shots were taken using shutter priority therefore allowing me to dictate the speed of the shutter whilst the camera dictates the aperture required, which I find beneficial when covering sporting events, changeable light and movement. By using a fast shutter speed it allows the use of large apertures which in turn creates a narrow depth of field. Allowing the focus on the main subject whilst the background is out of focus and therefore less distracting. This is particularly useful where the background is cluttered or spectators are rather sparse. At Old Trafford for the final we were not allowed to have remote cameras fixed nor to cover the Haka from either on field or a high vantage point. This access and facility was reserved for the official photographers and a very large picture agency.
I would like to thank all the volunteers of Team 13 for their help and assistance in directing me to press rooms and ensuring we were well looked after. Also Hannah of the RFL is an absolute trooper and ensured along with Tony and Joe that there were no glitches with regard to accreditation or communication. Thank you.