Three statues to be created in honour of rugby league codebreakers

James Gordon

Three statues will form part of a permanent artwork to honour some of Welsh rugby league’s greatest heroes in Cardiff Bay.

The three will be selected from a list of 13 nominees, who all grew up within a three-mile radius of Cardiff Bay, many battling prejudice and racism before leaving Wales to head north and become rugby league superstars.

The list of nominees includes three World Cup winners, three Rugby League Hall of Famers, nine Great Britain internationals, 12 Wales internationals and seven players who won 17 Challenge Cup finals.

The ‘One Team – One Race, Honouring the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers’ project was inspired by calls from the Butetown and wider Cardiff Bay communities for a fitting tribute to the players who did so much to improve race relations across Britain.

Wales RL CEO, Gareth Kear, said: “To have a project like this, honouring so many of the greatest Welsh rugby league players of the past, is just monumental. It is a watershed moment for us.

“In the North of England they all talk about Tiger Bay and the great players who went up to play rugby league from Cardiff. We need to reflect on our rich past and use it as a signpost for the future.

“It is not just about erecting a statue, this is a project that has at its heart education, sporting excellence and social justice.”

Coinciding with this year’s Sporting Heritage Day, giant images celebrating their incredible achievements will be projected onto the walls of Cardiff Castle.

It will signal the launch of the fund-raising campaign and the start of a public vote, which will help choose three legends from the 13 who will form the centrepiece of the artwork.

It is hoped the artwork, which could use QR codes to tell the story of Cardiff Bay and the role its residents have played in positive race relations since the docks where built, could go on permanent display in Cardiff Bay within the next two years.

Sir Stanley Thomas OBE, chairman of the project’s fundraising committee, said: “Cardiff has never really done enough to recognise its sporting greats, especially in the Butetown community, where so many superb rugby league players came from.

“We must give recognition to this community. I am delighted to have been invited to Chair the committee and I want to see this statue erected within two years. It is vital that players like Billy Boston, now 86, are able to see it completed within their lifetime.

“It is important we start this work immediately and I have made a financial contribution to kick-start it. But it is very much a community project and I am sure they, along with the rugby league clubs and authorities in the north, will get behind it.”

For more information on the project and how donations can be made, please visit