Category Rugby

GFI Hong Kong Football Club Rugby Tens

It’s rugby week again in Hong Kong and I was at Hong Kong Football Club for the GFI Rugby 10s.

The returning champions Biarritz Gavekal (formerly UBB Gavekal) came into the tournament looking to make it three wins in a row. Out to stop them were 3 time finalists (since 2013) Tradition YCAC, local team Hong Kong Football Club and UK based touring side Grove Penguins. Filling out the remaining tournament berths were 4th seeds and tournament debutants Mourant Fiji Army, Samurai International RFC, Asia Pacific Dragons, A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, Kir Club Pyrenees, Project X Waterboys, HK Scottish Exiles, the Classic Wallabies, Hunter & Boo East Africans, Tiger Rugby, Irish Vikings and the Shanghai RFC Silver Dragons.

Biarritz Gavekal suffered had a shaky start to their title defence with a surprise 14-12 loss to Projectx Waterboys on day one. However the top seed recovered and battled through an intense cup semi-final against Tradition YCAC, winning 12-5 and setting up a finals showdown with 3 times finalists, but never winners, Samurai International RFC.

The champions  went 7-0 down to Samurai before levelling with a try by Penikolo Latu and a conversion from out-wide by Nick Smith. Their second try soon followed courtesy of Glenn Preston before a try from Hong Kong-based Karetai Williams (conversion by Jason Robertson) settled the contest 19-7.


Valley Rugby Football Club Game Day

Pink Dot Hong Kong card
Valley Club Day in support of Pink Dot Day

Saturday was Club Day at Happy Valley Rugby Football Club. Happy Valley 6 turned pink for the day in support of Pink Dot Day and sponsor Societe Generale ran a booth with merchandise for Pink Dot awareness. The day included Hockey matches between Valley A vs HKCC A and Valley E vs Skyers B and a full card of Rugby matches with starting off with…

Valley Griffins vs HKS

Valley Mavericks vs HKFC Bulls

Exhibition play by the youngest members of the club

A Premiership clash Valley vs Hong Kong Football Club

and finally a Premiership A match with Valley Knights taking on HKFC Dragons.


Then and Now (2) – Sports Photography

When you are new to photography you need to photograph everything. You need to try every genre of photography and photograph every type of subject in every manner imaginable. Don’t ignore a genre of photography because you don’t think you will enjoy it. Try it first. I certainly had zero interest in photographing sports until I tried it one day. Now I enjoy it almost as much as I enjoy street photography. Also, just like Street Photography, I am a much better Sports Photographer now than I was when I started. I know because I still have all the embarrassingly bad photos that I took in the early days. So here is what I have learned between then and now…..

Don’t panic

an old (bad) rugby photograph I took
Under exposed, poorly composed and badly blurred due to using all the wrong settings.

When you start shooting Sports, just like any genre, there are a host of new things that you need to be aware of. As a result it is easy to be overwhelmed and forget the basics. With the picture on the right you can see that the image was under exposed and would have benefited from a little more negative space in front of the main subject. More importantly the image is blurred because I was so busy thinking about all the new elements of sports photography that I forgot the basics. I turned up and started shooting without checking all my settings. As a result I shot the whole game at a much slower shutter speed than I should have.

Less is more

The first time I shot Rugby I shot over 800 images… of which 5 were reasonable. Many of them were bad for a number of the reasons mentioned in this article but many just shouldn’t have been taken. Put simply the players were too far away/obscured/had their backs to me. Even with perfect technique they were never going to be good Rugby photos so I should never have pressed the shutter button in the first place.

For example, It is possible to take great sports photos with an iPhone or a short focal length lens such as a 24-105 but it isn’t possible to take great sports photos of players who are at the opposite end of the pitch with this kit. When the play moves out of range stop shooting (or run down to the other end of the field). It will save you having to cull a bunch of useless images.

Similarly, when the play is heading away from you, it is less likely to produce interesting photos (just as taking a Street photo of someone’s back seldom results in an interesting image). There are some exceptions of course but generally you want to see the players face and the ball for an image to be interesting. This doesn’t mean you should stop tracking the play (after all it could quickly turn around) but you don’t need to keep capturing bursts of a players receding back.


rugby player scoring a try
Face and ball both visible – check. More importantly the body has not yet come to a complete rest/landed, making for a more dynamic image.

Another problem for novice shooters (Street or Sport) comes from an inability to read the game. Unless you are already a fan of the sport you are shooting you may not immediately understand how a particular play will unfold. From the start of the play where will the ball go. Will it be passed, if so in which direction, will it be kicked, if so where. There are decisive moments in sports as there are in Street photography. Learning when those are likely to occur will allow you to capture better shots. Learning where the ball is going to be is often more important than knowing where it currently is.

As well as the timing of the game itself there is also the micro level timing of the individual players. Sports photographs are a 2 dimensional representation of a 4 dimensional event. A sporting event unfolds over time with participants moving as it unfolds. Trying to maintain that feeling of movement can often be difficult especially when you are simultaneously trying to freeze the action in order to capture a blur free image.

Note: panning and slow shutter speed are two great techniques for capturing the feeling of movement in a photograph. However, while creatively interesting they can be a little hit and miss to pull off and don’t work in every situation – hence the default option of shooting at higher shutter speeds.

The solution when shooting at higher shutter speeds is to focus on the individual timing of the subject. As the pioneering 19th Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge showed, people’s muscles expand and contract as they move and there are times when, while running, they don’t actually touch the ground at all (see the first photo above). Capturing a shot of an athlete during these times will result in an image with a greater feeling of action/movement. In the second image above Jamie Lauder (Hong Kong) lands after diving to score a try. Despite the fact that he is on the ground his trailing legs, still in the air, tell us that he is still in the process of landing, and thus make for a more dynamic image with a feeling of movement.

Who is your audience?

One final element to focus on is the editing – specifically in regard to who your audience is. When shooting for fun at my local rugby club (or for certain publications) I will edit images more loosely to show more of the players/story. Your friends all want to be in the photos even if they aren’t doing anything particularly interesting. On the other hand if your audience is a newspaper editor they likely want a much closer crop that focuses in on individual players.

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Rugby – HKU vs Causeway Bay

With the Old Mutual International Premiership taking a break this weekend I was at So Kon Po to shoot two matches between HKU and Causeway Bay.

Wizards vs Tempest

First up was a Championship match between HKU Wizards and Causeway Bay Tempest. The Tempest were the current holders of the Old Mutual International, Championship Challenge Cup but were unable to hold onto the cup after the Wizards won the match 16-6. The Wizards will defend the cup when they play Gai Wu Rebels at Sandy Bay on the 21st. Read More

Season Finale – HKRFU Premiership

Saturday 18th Feb saw the culmination of the regular season in the Men’s Premiership and the KPMG Women’s Premiership.

With Societe Generale Valley teams topping both the Men’s and Women’s Premiership tables, Happy Valley was the place to be for the final games of the regular season. Societe General Ladies Black went into their match hong-kong-rugby-matthew-rossleeagainst second placed Ga Wu Falcons knowing that there was an outside chance of the Falcon’s edging out Valley to win the league. If the second placed Falcons could win, (scoring 4 tries or more and by at least 8 match points more than Valley), whilst also preventing Valley from getting a bonus point, then the Falcon’s would edge out Valley and would top the table on match points difference.

By contrast the Valley Men’s team went into their final match against Herbert Smith Freehills Hong Kong Cricket Club with the Premiership already secure. Despite a stumble earlier in the season that saw Kowloon draw level Valley came into their final match with an unassailable lead over second in the table Kowloon RFC guaranteeing them the Premiership title for the second year in a row.

SG Valley vs HSF HKCC

Despite having already secured the Premiership there was no let up from SG Valley Men’s who won their match 61-26
Read More

Rugby double header

Time for some fun from the lower leagues with a double header at Sandy Bay (Stanley Ho Sports Ground) the home of University RFC. Game one features a National League 4 clash between URFC vs CPM Gai Wu J with URFC winning 41-10.

Game two of the day was a KPMG Women’s National League 2 game between University Unicorns vs Comvita City Ladies. (awaiting score).

Premier League Rugby – Societe Generale Valley vs Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers

Saturday 5th December saw Societe Generale Valley host a determined Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers at Happy Valley. In a first half that had little in the way of excitement neither team was able to get the upper-hand, with the score at 3-3 at the break.

Both teams came out for the second half with more determination but it was Valley that converted their effort into points, with four more penalties, taking them to 15-3. As the game drew to a close the Tigers rallied with a try by the No8, John Hrstich, to get them back to 15-10 but they were unable to do more before the final whistle.