Ahead of England’s World Cup final against South Africa on Saturday, Sky Sports News reporter Gail Davis speaks to Dave Rogers, a photographer who has brought to life the major Rugby World Cup moments since the competition began.
When I think of rugby tours, I think of Dave Rogers.
He took his first picture in 1975 and in the almost 45 years since, he has photographed 36 England rugby captains, as well as superstars like George Best, Seve Ballesteros, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona – who once sent him a Christmas card which he ripped up in anger a few years later after his handball against England at Mexico ’86.
Dave, who works for Getty Images, is undoubtedly one of the most talented sports photographers in the world, he is trusted by his subjects which helps him capture and bring to life so many treasured sporting moments.
To me he is also kind, fun, welcoming, always upbeat and no tour would be the same without him.
With over four decades in the sporting world, the Maradona Christmas card story only touches the surface, and who wouldn’t want one of Dave’s quiz’s on a four-hour road trip, a rendition of every national anthem he knows or a visit to a war memorial to break up the day.
Dave has covered every Rugby World Cup and as this year’s tournament reaches its climax, he has picked out his favourite image from each one.
1987 – David Kirk, New Zealand’s captain lifts the Rugby World Cup
This isn’t a photo I took but it is the only frame that exists of the first Rugby World Cup trophy lift.
It was a picture that was pooled to everyone.
The position to shoot from was poor and quite a few of us photographers chickened out, Russell Cheyne bravely volunteered but he had to borrow a flash.
In those days we shot on transparency film which was very difficult to get the exposure right.
After it was developed, we realised all of them were overexposed except for the one frame where the flash had failed to fire and it was perfect.
It was such a memorable shot because it almost didn’t exist.
1991 – Wales 13-16 Western Samoa
It was the day the Rugby World Cup came alive, and the result paved the way for upsets that we see today.
It was the first time a so-called Tier 2 nation had beaten a Tier 1 nation.
No one could have predicted that result; Wales were playing at home in Cardiff, they had great players like Robert Jones, Scott Gibbs and Leuan Evans, they had finished third at the 1987 World Cup.
This was a controversial try, the Welsh claimed that scrum-half Robert Jones had grounded the ball before To’o Vaega.
The joke was: ‘Thank Goodness Wales didn’t have to play the whole of Samoa’.
1995 – South Africa win the Rugby World Cup Final – Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienear
The atmosphere felt nervy, very nervy that day.
I had been to the country in the apartheid days and I loved the place and the people and felt at home but hated the politics.
It was great to see the whole country come together. It was the perfect day.
It was amazing to see the South African plane flying over saying ‘good luck Bokke’ – I have never seen an aeroplane fly so low, the pilot had only ever practiced on a simulator – and you knew something was going to be historic, and it was.
To watch the Springboks win against the mighty All Blacks was incredible.
Leaving the game, I have never known an occasion like it.
There was 10-15 miles of black and white people waving South African flags together and it really was an iconic moment.
The picture for me sums up the magnitude of the occasion.
1999 – France versus New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final; Philippe Bernat Salles’ try
For me, this was the greatest comeback since Lazarus.
The All Blacks had Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga playing for them and not many gave France any chance, especially when New Zealand went 24-10 up at Twickenham.
Then came this amazing spell from the French, and they ran it from everywhere.
Christophe Lamaison was amazing and led the way.
France scored 33 unanswered points and I got the try that won the game. One of the best World Cup matches ever.
2003 – Jonny Wilkinson kicks England to World Cup glory
We all expected it was coming and I wouldn’t have got the shot if Jonny had kicked with his normal left foot, the picture would have been of his backside.
I moved five or six times because there were players who kept blocking my view of him, and then at that crucial moment I was so lucky there was a gap and I watched history being made.
I had watched England win the football World Cup on television is 1966 and what a privilege to witness close up the rugby team do the same.
I love the picture of Sir Clive Woodward walking down the tunnel with the trophy aloft and the shots I was lucky enough to be allowed in the dressing room to take.
But for me to capture those split seconds of Jonny will live long in the memory and it won the Sports News Picture of the Year.
2007 – Andrew Sheridan’s head-to-head with Matt Dunning – Australia’s quarter-final versus England
This was the defining moment of Andrew Sheridan’s career, he almost single-handedly demolished the Australian scrum in Marseille.
He was 6ft 5 inches and almost 20 stone and he used every bit of his height and weight to intimidate the opposition that day.
I suspect it is a game that still haunts former Australia prop Matt Dunning.
Sheridan was such a gentle giant and I remember feeling sad for the guy on the day he had to retire – in the end after years of injuries his body just let him down.
Playing in Toulon gave him a new lease of life and he had a taste of the good life which he’s used in his new career as a wine buyer, and who can forget the guitar playing and folk singing too, he was a top guy.
2011 – Chris Ashton – Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand
Those were the days when the players let us film stuff like this.
The guys took a bit of stick but I was on their side, they’d been away a long time and there’s got to be a balance, they had to get out and have some fun.
I love how far down it is that is so hard to show in a picture.
Luckily Chris jumped a few times and I got him to turn to the camera and managed to get this picture.
Every tour needs a character and he was one of them, I think you miss lads like him when they’re not there.
The funniest part of that day was when Nick Easter jumped, he was pretty scared and it took him a while to pluck up the courage.
The guys eventually put him on the ledge and tied the bungee up and just when he lent over at the point of no return, the instructor guy shouted ‘not yet I haven’t tied it on properly’.
But he was off and poor Nick thought he was plunging to his death, it was very cruel but very funny.
2015 – Stuart Lancaster following England’s pool stage exit on home soil
You get the highs like in 2003, but sometimes you have to take a picture that you don’t want to take…
I felt really sorry for the-then England head coach Stuart Lancaster, I counted him as a friend, he was good to me.
I’ll never forget when they lost to Australia and England crashed out of their own World Cup.