Diary of a Rugby Photographer in Japan – Part 1

David Gibson established Fotosport 25 years ago, which is a sports picture agency specialising in covering rugby union.  He is 53 years old and based in Edinburgh. He has two daughters and regards just a couple of his many career highlights as the ’94 Scotland tour to Argentina and the ’97 victorious Lions tour to South Africa. Nowadays, as much as the rugby photography, he greatly enjoys the happy times spent recalling and exchanging humorous stories with his many friends abroad, gathered along the way since his rugby travels started began back in 1991.

David has covered in excess of 400 international test matches around the globe including the last last six Rugby World Cups and next year will see him photograph his seventh British and Irish Lions tour but he has never had the pleasure of covering rugby in Japan. 


Japan Bound

Sitting at Edinburgh airport, I am reminded with a content internal smile and a good measure of excitement that I probably have my Dad to thank for the wonderful career and joy that our great game of rugby has given to me. My old man was in the merchant navy for several years during my youth and I have vivid memories of his wonderful storytelling; of the exotic and colourful places he visited, the diverse and warm people he met and the almost unbelievable things he experienced. I’m fairly certain I picked up the travel bug from him.

I never tire of planning my next trip and then picking up my cameras to photograph: players who have become friends, fans who never fail to make me laugh at every game, stadiums built like modern FOTO19_SCOTLAND_PRESSER_TOKYOday colosseums, test matches that are both brutal and intense and tournaments that are a privilege to be at because they are the envy of the sporting world.

It’s a bit like visiting the circus again, as we did when we were kids. There is anticipation and of course excitement because you know you will be entertained by the players who have taken years to hone their skills and will soon perform on the big stage. You know there will always be drama; the tries, the celebrations, the controversial and unexpected moments and even the ‘big hits’ and injuries which are sometimes akin to an F1 crash. They can often look so severe, especially when viewed from the touchline, that I am astonished when players dust themselves down and just gets on with it.

No wonder those that follow the oval game with such passion and enjoy the sheer physicality of it all, never fail to enjoy ridiculing their long lost cousins who play with the round ball, it must be painful when you get struck by a feather…you can just imagine the field day Nigel Owens would have if he changed places with a  football ref for one game!

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“This isn’t soccer.”

On that topic, I also feel fortunate that I am literally travelling to a country that is almost a different world; different language, culture, food etc but the most startling difference will be in the mindset of the fans who will attend the two test matches in Nagoya and then Tokyo.FOTO147_SCOTLAND_JAPAN

Compared to the sad scenes witnessed by us all and photographed by some of my mates down in Marseilles over the weekend, we are all blessed and fortunate that rugby really is a great game and proudly remains untarnished, we ALL play our part in making it so. I hope this tour brings a few smiles to you and and that my photographs will do likewise.


Stay Tuned For Part 2 Coming Soon.

Any Question for David? Ask in the comments!

All photos used in the post are taken by David Gibson

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