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RugbyTown 7s - Glendale, Colorado

 
The last tournament for the Army Sevens squad took them to Glendale, Colorado. The three day tournament has become the highlight of the USA Sevens circuit and includes the US Armed Forces Rugby Championship. The Army Rugby Union joined teams from across the USA, the UK and also from Fiji. Alligin Photography covered the tournament and below are some of the images that were showcased from the event which was won in the end by Fiji. It was Fiji, including 4 of their Olympic gold medallists who had ended the Army's successful run in the tournament in a very hard fought semi final.

 
This is the first photostory to be loaded on to the Army Rugby Media Portal and it is hoped to make regular updates throughout the season.

Team in Union

United Colours

Creating the Images

 
The opportunity to capture the first image was unexpected and was a direct consequence of the heat that the players were playing in. It occurred directly after the Army's first match of the tournament, against Negro Y Azul (Austin, Texas). As the players were leaving the field they usually come together for a quick moment of reflection and then the customary huddle, grasp of hands and call, 'ARMY'. I have photographed this a number of times from the pitch and have numerous images of the 'pyramid' of hands.

However on this occasion Army Head Coach, Isoa Damu, wanted the team to move in to the shade at the end of the pitch. With the sun high in the sky this meant that they were tight against the end retaining wall which had a walkway above it. This walkway gave me a different vantage point from which to capture a new perspective rather than the the usual image. The two frames were taken a second apart as the hands come together.

The difference in the two images is small but its drama is increased when the 'doc', Mark Jenkins, added his large white hand to the right of the picture so that finally the whole squad, coach, team manager and physio were united. I think it becomes a very powerful image about team identity, unity and players of different cultures and faith coming together through sport.

 
A different opportunity arose on the final day of the tournament when the Army played Fiji in the semi final of the cup competition. At the end of a fiercely contested match both sides came together, not only for the customary handshake, but also they joined in a circle for a short while, they sang together, prayed together (a key part of Fijian culture) and then had a moment of reflection together. Finally they all joined hands and this time I was able to use an ultra wide angle lens from within the group of players to get a slightly different angle looking up from beneath the joined hands.

 
The remaining three images are from the end of the match just before the two teams joined in their final hand clasp. With the two teams intermingled in a large circle I wanted to capture something a little different than a standard photograph of the circle captured in the first image of the three. Though this the first image is powerful it has, perhaps, too much going on with other photographers in the background and the stands etc.

I tried to focus more of the attention in to the reflective atmosphere of the moment. By changing the angle and putting the players slightly in to silhouette I feel that the whole mood of the images changes. By then including the sun again the mood was altered and the fact that it was a hot day silently captured. I am still torn as to which of these two images I prefer but believe that each convey their own message accentuated by the single empty water bottle in their midst.

#Respect

When an opponent comes forward;
move in and greet him

Morihei Ueshiba, Akido