Every Championship invariably produces spectacular images. With this year’s edition now in the rearview mirror we asked Inpho, official photographer of the NatWest 6 Nations, to select their 10 best shots from 2018.
Check out their selection below, which includes spectacular action, emotion, celebration and touching moments from the sideline.
Ryan Byrne: With Wales playing such open, attacking rugby I felt there were always going to be tries in this game. Steff Evans continued his club form and was looking to make break after break during the contest. In the lead up to the try I remember looking across the pitch as Wales were building phases seeing how deep they were positioned. When Steff gathered the ball, he was in full flow. With try-scoring images you are always hoping for a dramatic dive or a twist, something to make it more than just a man touching down a ball. The ‘superman’ effect certainly provided that element of drama and the two Scotland players looking on in disbelief add to it as well.
James Crombie: When a game draws to a close and it looks like one side is going to win you really hope the action ends up near you and in this game that is exactly what happened. England were attacking the French line with the last play of the game and I wasn’t sure which side would get the win. Then when France turned the ball over the immediate reaction from the French team made for some great images, none more than when France’s Mathieu Bastareaud turned to the crowd and celebrated the way that he did.
James Crombie: I remember the passage of play leading up to this moment very well. Just before Anthony Belleau missed the late penalty that started the 41 phases, I recall Jonathan Sexton calling on players to be ready for the restart. He actually pointed to where Iain Henderson would later gather the ball to retain possession and start the drive which would ultimately win the game for Ireland. From my angle I could see that the team were still just over the halfway line and I was not expecting a drop goal. It generally happens so quick but when the scrum-half turns and passes the ball back a certain way you know that a drop goal is on. I photographed Jonathan for the next 30 seconds. He initially celebrated and then stopped so I didn’t know it had actually gone over until his reaction changed again. What a start to what would be a Grand Slam winning Championship for Ireland.
James Crombie: This one shows Scotland’s John Barclay celebrating after his side beat England to win the Calcutta Cup. I was lucky to be one of three photographers covering this game so I was able to take a risk and get a slightly different angle. The moment is just after John arrived back to his team at the winner’s board and shows a lot of emotion from John himself, but also Greig Laidlaw, Tim Swinson and Stuart Hogg. Sometimes images where the main protagonists aren’t looking directly at the camera work well and on this occasion, that turned out to be the case.
James Crombie: This image was captured with a remote camera that was placed in an angle we as photographers are unable to get to during a game. You have to get lucky sometimes for a try to be scored in the correct corner. The image captures Italy’s Matteo Minozzi scoring a try during his side’s Round 4 game against Wales. The angle and the reactions to the other people in the frame really make it work, from Wales’ Liam Williams looking on to the linesman checking the grounding.
Dan Sheridan: I was lucky enough to be part of the dressing room celebrations after Ireland had won the Grand Slam at Twickenham. This image is one of many great moments behind the scenes after the win that shows the great friendship the lads have. It is also one that sticks out to me because Johnny Sexton is not a man to really let his emotions out until the job is totally done and dusted. I saw him getting ready with the champagne bottle and shouting “go on the forwards, go on the forwards!” giving them their credit after a big performance.
James Crombie: This was a moment captured in the aftermath of Scotland’s win over France in Round 2. Greig Laidlaw had just won the Man of the Match award and I was in the mixed zone waiting to take some post-match press conference images. The press were looking to speak to Greig and as I waited, I saw him emerge from the celebratory dressing room with his son. I immediately though “there might be a photograph here”. As the interview started Greig placed Ruary down beside him and started speaking to TV. Ruary watched away, match ball in hand, and it made for a really nice image.
Oisin Keniry: After an incredibly tight match, I knew emotions were going to be high after the game. Naturally, when the final whistle blew I was focused on capturing the reactions of the Scottish team but as the celebrations died down, I spotted Sergio sharing a moment alone with his son Leonardo, away from all the chaos. After such a heartbreaking defeat, it was comforting to see a father appreciating that little moment with his son. I’ve always loved capturing these little candid heartfelt moments. It puts things into perspective and makes us realise what’s really important. It’s a part of my job that I’m sure I will never get tired of.
Ryan Byrne: During the first half I had noticed Wales kicking across the field from deep when they were under pressure. They were attacking down my end for the second half. This ball was kicked forward and I had seen Liam Williams take off at a serious pace and started to get ready. An image like this can sometimes work as the player taking the ball is usually coming from a static position whereas the chaser is rushing onwards with pace. The one shows the athleticism of both players during a really intense match.
Dan Sheridan: We were in the changing room when performance analyst Vinny Hammond got me and Peter O’Mahony to go out to meet Jennifer Malone, who is a massive Ireland fan. I saw Peter going to give her his medal and knew it would make a lovely image that would capture his graciousness and generosity and illustrate the inclusiveness that typifies Irish rugby.