11.25.18: Surrounded

A Detroit Tradesmen player is boxed in by Scioto Valley Rugby Club players, Rhodes Park, Columbus, Ohio.


Technical information

Sept. 17, 2011,
2:05 p.m.

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

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF 600mm f/4L 


1/1600th second


Central Ohio has a strong amateur rugby team. I’ve enjoyed watching — and photographing — games through the years. I don’t understand the rules but at times it seems to be like a less-structured version of sandlot football games I played growing up.

No pads. No helmets (except for ear coverings worn by some players). And as I’ve learned from watching the games, lots of potential for injury.

But rugby seems to as much a lifestyle as it is a sport. That’s evident from the slogans on t-shirts and bumper stickers on cars that I’ve read at the games. 

For instance:

  • Sure, “scrum” is a weird name, but “assault and battery” was already taken.
  • Rugby players wear numbers because you can’t always identify the bodies with dental records.
  • Rugby: If it wasn’t a game the police would be called in to break it up.
  • Sticks and stones may break my bones but rugby does it better.
  • If rugby was easy, it would be called football.
  • If you can’t play nice play rugby.
  • Education is important but playing rugby is more importanter.

And the classic:

  • Rugby players eat their dead.

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 was tracking the Detroit player carrying the ball in the middle of the field, assuming I would get a shot as he turned to pitch to a teammate. Instead, he turned and began to lower his shoulder in an attempt to run over a smaller Scioto Valley player. But the Detroit player didn’t realize his opponent had a much larger teammate closing in from behind. 

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. I like the expression on the ball carrier’s face as he prepares for contact, as well as the expression on the Scioto Valley player’s face as he prepares to crush the ball carrier from behind.

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.