07.15.18: Defensive position

A Scioto Valley Rugby Club players covers his head while play continues around him, Columbus, Ohio.


Technical information

Sept. 17, 2011,
2:32 p.m.

39°57'37.199" N 83°3'9.84" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF 600mm f/4L 


1/2000th second


I’m a sports junkie. I admit it.

I enjoy photographing a variety of sports and I’ve always enjoyed attending sporting events. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis, soccer, horse racing, track, golf, auto racing … I understand the rules and I know the strategy. Heck, I’ve been an active participant in most of them. And when I’m photographing a sporting event I know where to expect the action and can get my shots.

But rugby has me stumped. I never played, I don’t know the rules and I can’t anticipate the action. So when I decide to photograph rugby I have to be extremely patient — or extremely lucky — to get usable photos.

We have a very strong men’s amateur rugby program in Columbus, Ohio, and in the past I’ve attended a couple of games each season to grab some photos.

The Scioto Valley Rugby Club, formed in 1975, plays against clubs from Louisville, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and a number of other cities. Home games are now played in Fortress Obetz, a stadium in the Columbus suburb of Obetz. In past years the club has played at Bevelhymer Park near Columbus and at Rhodes Park, just west of downtown Columbus.

While I'm still trying to figure out the best way to shoot rugby (and still trying to understand the rules), I've applied some basic photography techniques that have helped me get some quality shots. 

For instance, I shoot from a position that places an uncluttered background behind the action — no spectators, parked cars, etc. This avoids having objects in the photo that would draw the viewer's eye from the action. 

For this shot, I had focused on the scrum as the ball was being put in play. My goal was to get a player tossing the ball after the scrum but as the Detroit Tradesmen player (in blue shorts in the foreground) grabbed the ball I saw a Columbus player hit the ground. I shifted my focus to him and grabbed some shots as he covered his head to keep from getting trampled. I had my 600mm f/4 telephoto lens on my camera to enable me to get a tight shot of action in the middle of the field. 

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.