How to Take Photos of Rugby

With the rugby season creeping ever closer with pre-season friendlies in full swing, I got the pleasure to tag along to a Welshpool game. My experience with rugby photography has been strictly restricted to rugby 7s. Rugby 7s is a game that is shorter, has fewer players, and generally has a faster pace. Being used to the fast pace and student atmosphere back in Aberystwyth, it was a refreshing change to photograph a 15-a-side game. If you missed my last post on a Guide to taking Rugby Photos, click here.

A scrum breakdown in a rugby game between welshpool and market drayton in 2016.

How to Take Photos of Rugby

Being an August weekend, I was expecting the traditional British Summertime Weather of overcast with a bit of wind chill. But ended up pleasantly surprised with a cloud-scattered sky allowing the sun’s warmth to break through.

I stuck to shooting with my Canon 6d and 70mm-200mm lens pairing shooting on the Tv mode. Due to the nature of the brightness of the outdoors, I set an auto ISO cap at 2500. The aperture I changed between 5.0-7.1. Depending on the amount of action formulating and the distance the play was from my position. Within this game, I saw the benefits of having a 400m telephoto lens. The action on the other side of the pitch being tricky to capture with the limitations of 200mm.

In my previous post, I talk about where to stand on the pitch and the composition that I find best for rugby 7s. It’s the same in 15-a-side rugby. Trying to anticipate the action and staying nearer the try lines worked well for me this game as I got some fantastic angles.

Rugby throw in image of ball being caught in front of the welsh/english border.

Tips and Tricks

I speak highly of the 45-degree angle in horse sports. The magic angle and the same can be said in rugby. Rather than a flat side or face, it brings the action more life and just brings the plays out of the frame. This can be achieved by being further up the pitch than the play. So don’t be afraid to wander up and down the sideline. (Just don’t do a “me” and accidentally knock people spectating with the lens hood!)

Another great aspect of this match was the setting, having the rolling green hills as a backdrop allowing the players to be the key focus of the image. It is preferable not to get gaudy advertisements of block colors in the background. It detracts from the subject of the image. But if it can be captured on a lower aperture it usually won’t take away too much.


With this match, I took around 480 photos, mainly on the short burst mode of plays. In particular, line outs, rucks, breakdowns, and passing tries. This is to get the perfect point of the pass, catch, or tackle. After looking through them on my laptop, cropping them, and correcting the angles, I had around 50 photos I was exceptionally happy with! Having a hit rate between 10-15% in sports is a good goal to have to start with.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or drop me a message on my website.

As always, thanks for reading, and have a great day!

signature briony molly

Published by Briony-Molly

Photographer & Designer. Horse Owner, Book Fanatic

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