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Play of the day: 1 match, 3 viewpoints at Rugby World Cup 2019™

Japanese rugby players celebrate after being awarded a penalty against South Africa in their Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final.
Sports photographers hope to capture moments of all kinds in the course of a match. Getty Images photographer Hannah Peters captured Jiwon Koo of Japan (centre) responding to being awarded a penalty during the Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final. "The Japanese prop got pretty excited, along with the whole pack, making for a nice moment in the game," says Hannah. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 1/2700 sec, f/2.8 and ISO2500. © Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Rugby World Cup 2019™ was an exciting international event that focused the eyes of the world's sports fans on Japan. Enthusiasm for rugby in the host nation reached fever pitch for the Japan v South Africa quarter-final, and photographers from around the world trained their lenses on the action.

How much of the action each photographer captures is determined by a number of factors, particularly their shooting position and the speed of their reactions. Here, three photographers from the Getty Images team – Hannah Peters, Cameron Spencer and Richard Heathcote – give their individual views of the Japan v South Africa match. They talk about the challenges, joys and frustrations on the day, reveal the Canon kit they used, and tell the story behind two of their best images from the match.

Japan break through the South African defence in the Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final.
"Japan were on the attack a lot after South Africa got a yellow card," says Hannah. "This was a slight break away by the centre, slicing open the South African defence." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 1/2700 sec, f/2.8 and ISO2500. © Hannah Peters/Getty Images
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Hannah Peters – far side of the tunnel

New Zealand-based Hannah has been a full-time sports photographer for Getty Images since 2010. She has covered international events including summer Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

"The atmosphere at the Japan v South Africa match was awesome," she says. "The Japanese fans had really embraced their team and were all hoping for something special. Each time they got a penalty or a break away, the crowd came alive.

"I was in a fixed position for this match – all fixed positions are ticketed and chosen ahead of the game – in a corner on the far side of the tunnel.

"I was shooting with three Canon EOS-1D X Mark II cameras, and a different main lens on each. I shot most of the match with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM [now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM] is handy for tries and lineouts and anything in my corner within five metres of the tryline. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is useful for pre- and post-match, for example when the Japanese players thanked the crowd post-game and posed for a team photo. It's handy to have that lens ready to go.

"During the match itself, the yellow card for South Africa's Tendai Mtawarira in the first half was a fairly big moment. Unfortunately, my view of it was blocked. However, that's the best thing about working in such a great team: we're able to spread the talent across the field, so we have all angles covered.

"Overall, the game didn't really go my way, but that can happen, and you take the good with the bad. The highlight was probably the crowd, and the way they showed their support. Ahead of the game, I went outside the stadium where the Japanese started singing the South African national anthem with a group of South African fans – that was a special moment to experience."

South Africa score their first try of the match against Japan during their Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final.
All rugby photographers hope to capture spectacular diving tries, and Cameron Spencer's vantage point put him in a good position when Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa scored his team's first try during the Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/3.5 and ISO2500. © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Cameron Spencer – behind the boards

Australia-based Cameron has covered many major international sporting events during his 15 years working for Getty Images. They include Rugby World Cup™ and FIFA World Cup tournaments and the summer Olympics.

England win a lineout against Tonga, by Getty Images photographer Dave Rogers.

A day in the life of a Rugby World Cup™ photographer

Getty Images' photographer Dave Rogers, a sports photographer for 40 years, tells the story of a typical day at the Rugby World Cup 2019™ – the preparation, the kit he uses and the shots he took.

"For Japan v South Africa, I sat behind the boards in the corner of the field in a static position at the Japan bench end," says Cameron. "I was shooting with Canon EOS-1D X Mark II bodies, and the lenses I used most were a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM, a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM.

"The atmosphere for all the Japan matches was standout, and this was no different. It was a huge occasion and the crowd was electric, especially during the first 10 minutes.

"I was in a good position for the opening try. As South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi ran for the corner, I swapped to my second camera with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. The tracking was on AI Servo and I used the one square centre point to focus on Mapimpi as he launched for the line, using 14fps. The shot in the air [above] was the most dynamic, and I like the fact you can see the other players in the frame who are attempting to prevent the try being scored.

"From my position I also shot some good lineout contests, and post-match there were some powerful moments with the Japan team looking emotional and thanking the crowd at my end of the field.

South African and Japanese players grapple as tensions come to a head during the Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final.
Cameron perfectly framed this on-field incident: "Tempers flared between opposing players and a minor altercation occurred," says Cameron. "I like the players' facial expressions – you can see there is a degree of resentment but they also appear to be smiling about it all." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO2000. © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

"As the score at half-time was Japan 3, South Africa 5, I was hoping for a closer second half, but South Africa gained momentum, scoring numerous tries at the opposite end of the pitch from where I was shooting.

"The second half was probably the most frustrating thing about the match for me – you want to be where the action is. Often in tight matches it's about big passages of play and line breaks. The defensive efforts from both teams were very strong and impressive, which meant there were few of these to record, so when they occur you need to be ready to capture them.

"Some games, everything unfolds in front of you; other games, nothing does – sometimes you can be very unlucky. That is why photographing sport is so exciting!"

A South African player spear tackles a Japanese player during the Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final.
Richard Heathcote captures one of the pivotal moments of the Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final, when Keita Inagaki of Japan was spear tackled by Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa, who was given a yellow card. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/4 and ISO3200. © Richard Heathcote – World Rugby/World Rugby™ via Getty Images

Richard Heathcote – roaming the touchline

Richard has been a sports photographer for Getty Images for 13 years and has covered four FIFA World Cups, five Olympic Games and four golf majors. This was his second Rugby World Cup™ finals tournament.

"During this quarter-final I had a 'roaming' role, working the touchline up and down the bench side," he says. "The home nation had been amazing throughout, and the fans didn't disappoint for this tense match. Whatever the outcome, the players were always going to be heroes, and they stuck in there for a good period of the game.

Players lifted in a lineout battle for the ball during the Japan v South Africa Rugby World Cup 2019™ quarter-final.
"In a lineout shot, you want to get a good contest between players trying to win the ball for their team," says Richard. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/4 and ISO3200. © Richard Heathcote – World Rugby/World Rugby™ via Getty Images

"The lenses I was using on my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II were the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM, the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. You can end up shooting a long way back from the action at rugby internationals, so I prefer to use the extra length of the 600mm when shooting in bigger stadiums with more run-off areas.

"One of the key moments of the match was the spear tackle by South Africa's Tendai Mtawarira on Keita Inagaki of Japan [above]. I was down on the 22m line keeping an eye on the Japan attack when Mtawarira smashed through and flipped Inagaki. The spear tackle marked a tense turning point in the game – the resulting yellow card kept the scoreline tight right up until half-time."

Napisal David Clark


• Canon was an official sponsor of Rugby World Cup 2019™.

• TM © Rugby World Cup Limited 2015. All rights reserved.

A sports photographer's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their sports photographs

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.

Camera

Lenses

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

A workhorse telephoto zoom lens designed for professional use. It has a rugged durable design, a four-stop Image Stabilizer and specialised lens elements. "I love the versatility of the lens and always feel confident I won't miss a moment when I've got it in my kitbag," says Hannah Peters.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM

A fast-aperture super-telephoto lens that delivers a professional performance – ideal for sports, news and wildlife photography. "For photographing rugby, shooting at f/2.8–f/3.5, nothing beats this lens," says Cameron Spencer.

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