David Ashdown's Sports Picture Diary: Wales v Ireland

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The Independent Online

Rugby. It's all about the timing, in more ways than one.

The final match of the Six Nations tournament was, unfortunately, held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful place to watch rugby, but for photographers it's not far short of a nightmare.

Let me explain. The match was due to start at 5.30pm (it actually started at 5.40pm) which is a terrible time on a Saturday from a newspaper view point, as the first edition should go at 7.30pm. The timing should have been OK, but one of the big failings at the Millennium is that it has very bad communications, as in Wi-Fi and 3G broadband. They have BT open zone but the signal goes up and down making a reliable connection almost impossible.

The roof was open for Saturday's match and while it may seem ridiculous, this makes a big difference to the photographers. If it's closed the 3G signal disappears! Unbelievable but true.

Most of the conversation before the match is not about who will win or which end should I position myself, it's about how long will it take to get a picture out. This should not be the case in 2009. The sending of the pictures should be the easiest part of the job - instead it's always in the back of one's mind.

I would normally send some pictures at half-time, but not in Cardiff. With about fifteen minutes to go to the mid-way point, I was trying to send some images but having no luck at all. In the end I was forced to go round to the press room to send them and miss some of the match.

During the second half I was concentrating on the Welsh attack. It was a very tight game and as it got nearer to full-time Simon Jones scored a drop goal for Wales which put them in the lead. After that it reminded me of the final stages of the England v Australia World Cup final in 2003 and like that day it was a drop goal in the final minutes that were to secure victory.

I was using two Nikon D3 cameras, one with a 500mm F4.0 lens and a 70mm-200mm zoom. The picture above of Ronan O'Gara kicking the winning drop goal would have been very easy to miss. It was at the other end of the pitch and quite easily there could have been players in the way or I could have simply not been concentrating. With the memory of that final in Australia in mind, I knew I was not going to miss my chance.

It was taken at 1/640 second at F4.00 on the 500mm lens. As I said, it's all about the timing. I just about got the pictures over in time and made the first edition to illustrate what was a stunning climax to this Six Nations tournament.

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