...for the next few months my Saturday afternoons (well, the dry ones where there's not actually snow on the ground in any event) will mostly be spent dashing up and down the sidelines taking photos of the Harlow "Saints" Rugby guys in full flight. I missed the first couple of matches of the new season as we were away at Ludlow and Sheringham, so this Saturday's trip just up the road to Brentwood RFC was my first match of the season. We're playing in a different league this season - the Essex merit table, division 5, and most of our matches will be far more local than we've been used to. One of the reasons for the change was the reluctance of some of the other sides in the old league to travel to us, in spite of us having made long trips for our matches at their clubs. We seemed to spend half of the season with matches being called off, hence the decision to change.
We arrived to find that the Brentwood team had suffered from several players dropping out at short notice, leaving them several players short of being able to field a team, so Mr EH played for them in the first half, and a couple of our other players donned their colours during the second half of the match. Lower league rugby is like this - people would rather change shirts and play for the opposition and actually get a match than have a situation where the other side have to concede - it's a refreshingly sporting attitude. And far from what you might think - once you've "switched sides" there is no holding back - the match is played with just as much determination as if you were playing for your normal team!
In spite of players playing "musical Shirts", and a brief spurt of energy from Brentwood at the start of the second half that saw them banging in 2 tries in quick succession, this one went well for the Saints, ending in a 50- 21 win. As usual we had decent travelling support - one of the home team said "I think there are more supporting Harlow here than for our lot!" - and yes, she was right.
I always "double up" on kit for rugby matches, much as I used to for speedway. So 2 x camera bodies and 2 x suitable lenses. This safeguard (taught to me by Ipswich track photographer Steve Waller) stood me in good stead when my 40D died earlier in the year - I was able to switch to the spare body and keep going. This time round the lens on the camera was the "new" Tamron 70-300mm - this has had a lot of outings through the summer as I've been starting to get used to it and I'm still impressed. Even in poor light on saturday it performed well. (The "spare" lens in the bag was the Canon 70-200mm - the fact that it stayed in the bag is true testimony to the quality of the Tamron!)
Looking forward to the rest of the season now - remember - all my rugby stuff can be found over at The Harlow Saints Photo site - this is updated after each match.