Wembley statue nears completion

With just 100 days to go until the sport of rugby league celebrates its 120th birthday, the statue at Wembley Stadium commemorating some greats of the game is nearing completion.

The statue will be located on the Wembley concourse and commemorates the sport’s long and proud association with the national stadium.

It is set to be unveiled on the day of the Challenge Cup final, on Saturday August 29.

That date also marks 120 years to the day since Rugby League was founded at a momentous meeting of clubs at the George Hotel in Huddersfield in 1895.

Sculptor Stephen Winterburn is happy with the way the project is going, as he works on the project in his studio in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

“We’re getting there, it’s all going really well and everything is on course for August 29 and what will be a really special day for everyone,” he said.

“There is still a lot of work to do but I’m pleased to say that we’re on schedule and the team are working hard to make this happen. There are a lot of elements to the statue and a lot of our focus now is pulling them together.

“Bronze is not the easiest material to work with but it’s a fantastic metal and we’ve all really enjoyed being involved with a modelling process which is thousands of years old.

“Creating ceramic moulds and casting hot molten metal is a delicate and difficult process but one which as an artist is hugely rewarding.

“Bronze will last forever, and that’s an important message in a sculpture which celebrates a sport like Rugby League.”

The three living players who are represented in the statue, Billy Boston MBE, Martin Offiah MBE and Alex Murphy OBE, have all completed their sittings.

The families of the late Gus Risman and Eric Ashton MBE, the other two players on the statue, are also pleased with the way the players have been sculpted.

“Everyone has done their bit and it’s all signed off now,” added Winterburn. 

“Now it’s a case of assembling what we can in the studio and preparing the statue for its journey to Wembley in late August.

“The creation of the base is a big job at the moment: it’s an essential element of the statue and structurally significant to the whole piece.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way things are progressing: in 100 days’ time I’m confident that we’ll be unveiling a public sculpture that everyone involved in Rugby League will be proud of.”

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