Photographing the Golden Oldies Rugby EventMonday September 19, 2016
Age Means Nothing for the Greatest Game in the World
When I was contacted and asked to photograph the Golden Oldies International Rugby Event in Cardiff (21st - 27th August 2016) I had no idea what to expect. I love rugby and I was just thrilled to get the opportunity.
I arrived to photograph the opening ceremony in Cardiff Castle on the Sunday afternoon. The weather was typically Welsh and wet. However, this did not deter our Golden Oldies. From 2pm onwards groups of rugby players and supporters from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, USA, Canada, Japan, Brazil, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales swarmed into the castle grounds in search of beer. There was an amazing array of clothing colours and hats, with each group trying to outdo the next. The beer flowed and heavier rain fell, but those Golden Oldies just carried on, celebrating rugby in a way that only rugby can.
Just as the clouds opened to drown even the hardiest Golden Oldie, the parade through the streets of Cardiff began. They marched with flags and beer out of the castle and down to the Principality (Millennium Stadium) for the main opening ceremony.
With the roof closed, the Golden Oldies were thankful to be dry, but what was wonderful were the expressions of awe and wonder as they walked into the greatest rugby stadium in the world.
Scrum V's Phil Steele was the compere for the evening, insightful as ever with his vast knowledge of rugby. He was supported with an appearance from the best rugby referee in the World, Nigel Owens. As the evening developed, the beer and wine flowed and finally the live band played to dancing, drunken Golden Oldies. I just wondered how they would be able to play rugby the next day. And during the evening there was money raised for the fantastic Wooden Spoon charity.
Due to other commitments, I was not able to photograph the games, but returned for the closing ceremony back in the Principality Stadium. The rugby had been played and the video showed players of all ages weaving their way past defenders or putting in those hard tackles. The overriding impression was one of enormous fun.
The closing ceremony was slightly more formal, but maybe only in dress. The beer and wine still flowed and the celebrations continued. These Golden Oldies were amazing characters, enjoying life to the full with an oval ball in one hand.
Another Golden Oldie, Clive Rowlands, took to the stage to talk about the magical Wales rugby of days gone by. His stories of Gareth Edwards and the magnificent teams of the 70s captivated the audience.
At one stage, Paul Guest from the organisers VSL introduced all the players who were over 80. Up they stood, to massive applause. I can only wonder about my ability to play rugby at 80.
The evening finished with another live band and lots of very bad dancing. This was a rugby celebration like no other and I was just thrilled to be a part of it.
Paul Fears is a commercial and industrial photographer based in South Wales. For further details please contact Paul on:
Phone: 07909 103789
Via the website
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