This needs to be quick – as the game is on soon. It’s the rugby world cup, and Wales start their campaign in a bit. I love Rugby Union, so after a weekend where I could overdose on matches, I wanted to celebrate the speed the strength, and the bloody-mindedness of the game.
Also, with it being in Japan I, got to try out a brush pen I’ve had lying around for a while (typically these pens are associated with Manga), which it turns out gives a lovely flowing line which suggests movement really well. Though it took me a while to loosen up, and not try to do too much – often the case when trying out a new technique. Rugby Union is fascinating to illustrate because the players are sculptural – both beautiful and grotesque, and the game wraps moments of explosive action around strategic attrition. These drawings manipulate the amazing perspectives of the human body that Rugby displays - no-one makes these shapes naturally! The addition of colour suggests the energy of the game - whether in running free, committing to a tackle, or pushing, what seems like endlessly, in a scrum. I hope the lines also show the humanity of the players, who can easily be mistaken for icons, or avatars.
One of the surprising things about me, if you know me, is that I’m a passionate rugby fan, and in particular Wales (long story – but it’s a thing now). It’s surprising cos’ I really don’t look like someone who’s into sports – never-mind who plays it – which I don’t generally. But for a few months in sixth form I did. I was rubbish – no, really. I’m 5’ 11” on a good day, back then I was skinny, I am really short sighted, didn’t have contact lenses, and I played second row… (*ahem, this pause is for rugby fans to finish laughing, for those not familiar – a normal second row is seventeen feet high and built like a brick shit house… okay, slight exaggeration, but you get the point… competing against them was fun).
The thing is though – I played. The team found a space for me, which they probably regretted, but no one ever told me to stop. I like the poetry of the movement in rugby – going back to go forward, the side-steps, the loops and the scissors of the Backs; I love the strategy, the power and the stubbornness of the Forwards; I even appreciate the machiavellian antics of the Scrum Half or the Hooker. Rugby, in its essence, is a game that needs difference – it needs people of different heights, weight, speed and temperaments to come together to make a team. True, the professional era has maybe insisted that all these things are more athletic than ever before, but that difference can still be seen – y’know, if you squint, and turn your head just so.
Anyway – over the next month or so I will be obsessed with the games, the players, the weather in Japan; I will more nervous, frustrated, euphoric, and probably despairing than is good for me, so I thought I’d try to draw that…