It has been almost a decade since the last time I was a spectator at a rugby match where I was not related to any of the players. As it happens, that last time also happened the be the first professional rugby game I’d ever attended.
Nine years ago on a chilly June night, I piled into a car with my brother, dad, uncles and cousin for a mini road trip to Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. We were on our way to watch the All Blacks and Ireland. My brother had acquired rugby fever during our vacation, however I was considerably less impressed with the sport that everyone described to me as a cross between my favorite and least favorite sports: soccer and American football.
The thing about sports photography is that if you go out and shoot the same sport often enough, you find yourself taking essentially the same photo over and over.
I mean, how many pictures of a guy passing the footie or wrapping up the opposition in a big tackle do you really need to make your point visually? From a player’s perspective, I suppose you can never have too many. But as the person behind the lens, sorting through hundreds or thousands of photos that start to blur together, you start to feel like the BBC’s modern version of Sherlock Holmes: bored.
Given the number of games I attended last year, it’s hard to believe the PRP season is more than half over and I’ve only just now seen my first match of the season. I’ve been to a few D1 games, but only photographed one of those.
Last Saturday was postcard-perfect weather for Southern California. The second half of the game was particularly exciting with OMBAC mustering a much desired win from their Belmont rivals.
Last weekend a friend and I road tripped to the Bay Area to watch OMBAC play San Francisco Golden Gate. In rugby terms, the trip was pretty disappointing. The game itself was a dismal 52-15 affair, far and away the worst of the games I’ve seen this season. SFGG maximized all advantages of playing at home, while OMBAC didn’t look lively until the last ten minutes or so. We brought some local friends and family, all of whom had never before seen a rugby game. They had a grand time, and one of them came away wanting to give it a try.
Right then. Let’s spend a few letters noting the better parts of the trip.
Friday we tagged along to the grand opening of the Piner High School SPITZ Planetarium. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but for a geek who has never been to a planetarium (that’s me), it was awesome. If you could have seen the nerdtastic grin plastered on my face for the duration of the 15-minute presentation, I’m sure you would have been entertained. My friend’s niece certainly was.
We also managed to traverse all three SF bridges paying only one toll fee, went to a church service with puppets, and encountered one of the world’s more blatantly sexist arcade machine – an arm wrestling game asked players to choose between “male” and “female” modes. Yes, the female mode was obnoxiously easy. And yes, you better believe I beat man mode one-handed.
Last Saturday was a rugby double-header for OMBAC Family Day down at the Little Q. It was warm enough to almost feel like summer, and the crowd was sizable for such a lovely day. During halftime of the PRP game, some of the Eagles Sevens players came out and ran a demo for all the kids in the crowd. It was pretty freaking cute. Adorable rugby, who knew?
Any time I get to see each of my favorite OMBAC players suit up and get playing time is a win for me, and by that standard Saturday was great (I’ll let you guess who my favorite players are…). In terms of wins and losses, it was more of a mixed bag. The D1 side played well against the first place team, LARC. Unfortunately, the scoreline was not in our favor. Still, OMBAC put out a solid effort and the game was entertaining with a couple of moments to get the fans riled up.
I probably won’t write a post for every rugby game I shoot, but the OMBAC at Santa Monica RFC on Saturday is definitely deserving of its own space.
From the rugby side of things, both of my favorite players got to start (go Team Turori!). John’s first fifteens game in two years was for OMBAC’s D1 team, who picked up solid win. Then, it was time for OMBAC’s first Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) game. The play and score were tight the whole game. In the second half, OMBAC fell behind. The possibility of walking out with a win began to look grim, but the team rallied to score a try in the final minute of play. A successful conversion kick gave OMBAC the victory by one point!
Hard to believe we’re already four days into February. This year is slipping by faster than I would like.
My brothers play club rugby for OMBAC and last weekend the team kicked off their season with a home game against the Old Aztecs. As per usual, the San Diego weather was perfection. As this was my first action outing with the new camera, I kept it simple and didn’t take too many photos. I forgot how much fun it is to shoot sports photography!