Elegant Violence & Alison Griffiths Bites The DustMonday, July 02, 2007
Sometime in the early 80s freelance writer (now a respected author and sports broadcast journalist)Alison Griffiths joined a Vancouver all-female rugby team and proposed to Vancouver Magazine editor, Malcolm Parry a story on her experience. I was dispatched to shoot the team playing on various Saturday afternoons, including many rainy ones.
I had never had an opportunity to photograph a rugby game in spite of the fact that my O'Reilly nephews in Argentina were all rugby players (amateurs as the rugby leagues in Argentina are supposed to be so). In fact my nephew Georgito had even been a member of the Zebras.
This was a euphemistic name given to the Argentine National Rugby Team which normally were called the Pumas. Since the Pumas and Georgito played the Springboks in South Africa during the sports embargo, the Zebras played but everybody really knew they were the Pumas!
So I knew about rugby as I had attended many games in Buenos Aires during the mid 60s to watch my nephew play with the extremely snobbish CASI (Club Atlético San Isidro). It was here that I discovered the tercer tiempo (or the rugby third half).
Winning team and losing team would meet after the game and booze it up. I discovered that the ladies of the Vancouver rugby league honoured this excellent tradition. They even went as far as telling extremely off-color jokes during the drinking. I took pictures in the dressing room and I noticed that alcohol flowed freely. I voluntarily left the dressing room as I realized they were not going to tell me to leave.
By the time I finished shooting, after that month of following the team around, I thought I was almost good enough to shoot rugby.
I had almost gotten the hang of it. Alas the pictures never saw the light of day. Allison was hurt in one of the games (see picture) and when she went to the doctor she was told that she and her husband David Cruise were going to have a baby. And that was the end of the story.