Rugby Rain

Four French rugby supporters wearing wooden spoonsI was one of the few people in the photography room in the Aviva stadium yesterday who wasn’t drenched. I was covering the Six Nations Ireland vs France match for AFP. Sporadic showers were forecast for Dublin, but when I arrived at the stadium at 2.45pm there was a very stubborn drizzle the whole time I was filming outside the stadium.


Being an accredited journalist at a big media event is a luxury. Having large lockers for your gear, allocated desks (each with a plug point and ethernet connection) and super, super fast internet is a world away from filming news gigs like a self contained OB-pack camel with all your supplies and your laptop on your back.


Accreditation also means you have access to areas of stadia not often seen by the fans. In 2009 I saw the inside of Croke Park when I worked on Adrian McCarty’s fantastic Croke Park Lives. I love being in the intestines of these huge structures and hearing the roar of the crowd resonate through the concrete as you walk through its arteries.


The rain hammeredIrish rugby fans at the six nations down once I got inside to edit, and I felt really dry as I watched the stills photographers in the room suit up in layers of waterproofs, and within a few minutes I was the last one left in the room. Kick off was imminent. I put my edit onto the AFP FTP site and watched the green line push through the white in a few seconds…Uploaded! (To put this in context on a poor internet connection this process can take 90 minutes).


The rain was unrelenting for the whole match. Half-time and the room was again full of soaked photographers racing through their shots, selecting the best ones, adding a slight grade and then uploading them to their agencies sites. For some of them, they only get paid if their stills get used, so speed and a sharp judgement are crucial.


It was quiet and far less humid and tense in the nearby Media Conference Room where I set up my camera and checked the mics before the post match analysis. During the second saturated half of the match France clawed their way back to equalise with Ireland at 13:13.


In the last 10 minutes of the game I made my way to the main tunnel that feeds the players onto the pitch. It was lined with media and stewards keeping dry, watching the match on screens. Looking onto the field it reminded me of the first time I saw the French rugby team play. It was way back on the 17th June 1995 at the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa. I was on my school holidays, selling programmes for pocket money. After work I got to watch the water-logged match between South Africa and France from the steps of a dry entrance to the nose bleed seats of Kings Park Stadium in Durban. Extreme wide angle.

This time I was in the main tunnel watching the pitch in close up. I watched the lines of rain highlighted under the floodlights. Same weather though. Same rain.

2 men at a press conference


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