Kenyan sports reporter and photographer Eric Njiru has won the Rugby Africa Gold Cup Photo Award for his stunning picture of Kenya captain Davis Chenge scoring a try during the Kenya-Tunisia Rugby Africa Gold Cup game in Nairobi on August 11.
The Award jury, composed of Lee Martin, Senior Vice-President of Global Strategic Development at Getty Images; Abdelaziz Bougja, Chairman of World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa Gianni Merlo, President of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) and Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO Group, selected the image after reviewing 90 shortlisted photos taken throughout the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, which has been a thrilling tournament for all local and global rugby fans.
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup Photo Award recognises sports photography excellence and rewards photographers documenting the defining moments of Africa’s premier rugby competition. On the 11th of August, the Kenya Simbas, as they are known in the rugby world, defeated the Tunisia national team 67-0, scoring 11 tries and six conversions – a crushing victory captured perfectly thanks to the work of Eric Njiru.
Njiru, a sports journalist and rugby expert, has been covering matches across the continent for years for local, regional and national press. Such is his passion for the sport, he has created a digital platform – RagaHouse.com – dedicated to East African rugby, covering Kenya 7s, Kenya Simbas and many other competitions featuring African nations and clubs.
Since publication, Njiru’s photo has been downloaded over 500 times by Getty Images clients and subscribers all over the world – including more than 100 from China, illustrating the growing international reach of the African game.
Martin, said: “This powerful image by Eric Njiru of Chenge scoring his try demonstrates remarkable talent and sums up the excitement of the game. Our extensive distribution platform at Getty Images reaches both local and global customers, meaning stand-out moments such as this can be easily shared with fans around the world.”
Congratulating the winner, Pompigne-Mognard said: “What Eric succeeded in capturing is exceptional. The game was reaching its climax when Davis Chenge scored that try, and I believe this picture will remain in many fans’ memories for a long time. BBC World News, for instance, used that photo in their TV news output, which shows how powerful it is. Sports images are an essential component to media coverage of African rugby competitions. In an era where visual content is taking over from text content, it is an incredible medium to spark the interest of both the media and audiences around the world.”
On his part, Bougja said: “To me this photo encapsulates everything that’s great about the Rugby Africa Gold Cup: fantastic athletes, phenomenal energy, world class skills and an amazing vibe. The tournament is fast becoming one of the biggest sports events in Africa. It is unique because of the number of matches and the fact that it involves six different countries reaching out to more fans than ever before.
The 2018 edition of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup was extra special as it doubled up as a Rugby World Cup Qualifier. In this picture we see the Kenyan captain diving beyond the try line. His team ranked second in the competition and will play the international repechage tournament in Marseille in November. Africa will support them all the way and hope to see them join South Africa and Namibia at the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.”
“This photo and the entire initiative by APO Group is yet another demonstration of how sports photography in Africa is growing. It is a new boost for people to keep working and to always be more professional. The impressive shot by Eric Njiru shows that professionalism in photography is moving in the right direction, and also that rugby in Africa is in the spotlight. AIPS welcomes all competitions of this sort to encourage our colleagues to improve further,” added Merlo.
Credit: APO Group.