Harrogate mum is official Rugby World Cup photographer

Harrogate photographer Jude Palmer with the Rugby World Cup and England rugby legend Bill Beaumont.

Harrogate photographer Jude Palmer with the Rugby World Cup and England rugby legend Bill Beaumont.

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By Graham Chalmers

Once in a lifetime’ situations are becoming almost common place for intrepid Harrogate photographer Jude Palmer.

Having been the official behind the scenes photographer last year at one of the world’s biggest sporting events, the Tour de France, this single mother of three is now the official behind the scenes photographer of another one, the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.

As a result, as well as sorting out summer camp for her two younger children in summer and greeting the other back from university, she’s also busily documenting the current build-up in the northern region to the biggest rugby event on the planet.

She said: “To cover two of the world’ biggest sporting events in just over a year is beyond exciting. The Tour de France was such a launch pad for my career, it seemed the obvious move to try to do something similar at the Rugby World Cup.”

If anyone can pull it off, it’s this formidable former consultant in the TV industry turned photojournalist.

Having coped with the scrum of mainly male photographers on the Champs-Élysées last year, Jude is battled-hardened and ready for action.

She said: “I’ve learnt a lot of lessons from last year. In Paris there were hundreds of other photographers jostling and pushing for the best views. But I know how to play the game now.”

It’s just as well. For the first-time ever, organisers are attempting to create the sort of community engagement and ‘legacy’ common to both the Olympic Games and last year’s Tour de France.

Last week saw Jude trekking up Scafell Pike in the Lake District with the Webb Ellis Cup in the company of RFU chairman and ex-England and Lions captain Bill Beaumont one day and travelling to Hadrian’s Wall the next day.

A week on Sunday will see her cover the Rugby World Cup’s first-ever Mixed Ability Rugby Tournament in Bradford, then there’s the daily job of covering almost everything going on behind the scenes at the world cup’s two northern bases - Leeds and Newcastle, not to forget the ongoing Trophy Tour or the event’s programme of school events.

Her schedule for covering the northern region is enough to make anyone breathless but it helps that Jude is a genuine fan of rugby.

“The build-up is massive I’ve got to be in so many places, sometimes at the same time! I’m a great rugby fan myself. My favourite sports are rugby and cycling but my other great sporting passion is tennis. Look out Wimbledon next year!”

Although not responsible for capturing the action on the pitch once the tournament begins in earnest on Friday, September 18 when England take on Fiji at Twickenham, she will be catching some of the big teams on the practice pitch at Darlington, Leeds and Newcastle.

Jude will be there to capture the official send-off for the England team at the 02 Arena in London in September. And her momentous assignment will take her all the way to the final itself at the end of October.

A dedicated photojournalist who started off as an amateur photographer, it seems the people behind major sporting events not only like her spirit, it’s her different approach to the art of photography which really appeals.

“They love the idea of having a different take on things. They want to be able to show what the rugby world cup really meant to the region.

“My more journalistic approach has been done elsewhere but it’s never really been done in rugby union before. I’ll be out nearly every day at all hours but I love it.”