Ben Fulton, pictured above brings an abrasive edge to the British Army 7s side and his passion and emotion shows through when on the side line. I deliberately framed the image to leave in the British Army's shirt sponsor, showing beneath his replacement vest as the name Samurai is so evocative in terms of the warrior / combative element of rugby that is such a key part of this gladiatorial sport.
He is the type of player that each of the squad have amongst their ranks, often being the emotional heart beat of the team. With the competition having reached the knock out stages, the quarter final match against 1823 Tigers was a step up in intensity and the tension throughout the competition could almost be tasted. Above Ben is getting animated having given his all on the pitch as the Tigers stage a late come back before the Army held on for a 17 - 14 win and the chance to play Fiji, complete with a number of Olympic gold medalists, in a semi final.
On the side line.
The first two images were taken during different halves of the match. In the first <name check> is a picture of calmness as the Army build a 17-0 lead. He is resigned that his tournament is over due a knee injury sustained on day 1. For <name check> each tackle, each referee decision, each error was lived through and he was regularly out of his seat voicing encouragement.
Yet for Edward Williams it was more a matter of recovery. A newcomer to the Army Sevens squad he is a young player who is rapidly developing but having emptied his tank on the pitch before being replaced his exhaustion kicked in and it was hard to focus on the action on the pitch. Whilst for <name check> the exhaustion was such that even as the final whistle blew he still had that far away look I have photographed so often in endurance athletes who push their bodies beyond excepted norms.
Finally Craig Edwards looks on, again with those far away eyes of an exhausted athlete. He had given the Army a platform with several lung bursting try scoring runs and was sat, powerless, watching his team mates as they tackled for all their worth to keep Tigers out. Tiredness and tension in the face but unable to do anything other than simply watch.
In the next four images I have tried to capture some of the physical exertion expended after two days of sevens rugby, and still the players need to recover for what is sure to be a full on semi final encounter.
And even before the warm down is complete and with bodies still sore and tired, the mind begins to look forward to "the next match" A semi final and the chance to pit yourself against the Olympic Champions - Fiji.
.................but never forget your supporters. Two very young supporters went away happy after having their "fan's fan" (available in the design of all the teams) signed by the British Army squad - hearts and minds!
All the images were taken with a mix of a Canon 5DSr with EF200m f2.0 wide open and a Canon DX MkII with EF200-400mm f4.0 again wide open. The difference in equipment was because I was also still shooting the action on the field so some were taken with the longer lens from pitch side, whilst others when I was either at the technical area or close to the players during their warm down.
Click on any image to see a larger version. If you wish to see all of the action images from the RugbyTown 7s then simply click on the image below to go to the Army Rugby Union Media Portal.