How I shot it: Rugby star screaming or utterly stuck? You decide.

February 13, 2012 | By Scott Heavey | Sport

Editor’s note: Our UK Sport Photographers do more than capture compelling imagery —  really, they are quite a team themselves.  Recently, they chose Getty Images photographer Scott Heavey’s picture of rugby star Guy Mercer trapped in a ruck as their favorite sport image of the month; what follows is what Scott had to say about it:



Guy Mercer of Bath in a scrum during the Heineken Cup match between Bath Rugby and Leinster at Recreation Ground on December 11, 2011 in Bath, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)


When I talk to people about my job I often tell them that “back in the day” waiting to see how your pictures had turned out was as big a buzz than seeing the picture published in a newspaper or magazine. In this instance however, I couldn’t have been happier to press a button on the back of the camera and see immediately if the picture I had just taken had turned out as well as I had hoped.

As the scrum was slowly rotating I could see Guy Mercer of Bath tucked deep in the middle and he was struggling to stand up. I played Rugby for all of two matches at secondary school before getting knocked out by a much bigger boy, so I couldn’t tell you what it’s like to be in a ruck and that’s what I love about this image. Mercer could be appealing to the ref, he could be encouraging his teammates to push on harder or (as I like to think) he’s completely and utterly stuck! He must have opened his mouth for a nano-second as the images on either side in the sequence are just him grimacing.

When shooting rugby, there are so many bodies on the pitch that  your best image could be quickly ruined by an arm or a boot sneaking into frame. I was hoping that for this picture Mercer’s face was the only one, or it wouldn’t have been as strong. Luckily I only had to wait all of 10 seconds when the play came to a stop before looking at the back of my Canon 1D MkIV and seeing that poor old Guy was indeed the only face amongst the gripping hands, muddied shorts and the tattooed arm of Ryan Caldwell.

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