Cardiff Bay rugby legends statue sculptor announced


The creation of a statue to Cardiff Bay’s legendary rugby ‘codebreakers’, who left a lasting legacy on the world of rugby league, has taken a major step forward in its fundraising campaign.

The statue, which will honour three of the leading players who controversially moved from amateur rugby union careers to star in England’s professional rugby league teams, was the subject of a fundraising campaign led by South Wales businessman Sir Stanley Thomas OBE.

Now, as it approaches its target, the fundraising committee has commissioned sculptor Steve Winterburn to create the monument to the sporting heroes, represented by Billy Boston, Clive Sullivan and Gus Risman, all from Butetown and the old Tiger Bay area.

Said Sir Stanley: “I made a commitment two years ago to achieve our fundraising target and commission the statue within two years. Despite Covid drastically impacting on our fundraising efforts, what we have achieved is remarkable.

“I would like to thank Vaughan Gething MS, the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas, as well as Gaynor Legall, the chair of the Heritage and Cultural Exchange, Gareth Kear, head of the Welsh Rugby League, our committee and advisers and, of course, the public who have donated to the cause.”

Winterburn, of Yorkshire Fine Arts, has a wealth of experience memorialising sporting legends and has already immortalised Billy Boston in a statue in Wigan and created the iconic rugby league ‘Heroes’ statue at Wembley Stadium.

Boston, along with Sullivan and Risman, were hailed as trailblazers when they moved north, overcoming prejudice to become stars not only in their new adopted communities but also in the Great Britain teams they represented.

“They brought honour to themselves, their families, the game and the communities where they were brought up,” said Cllr Thomas, “and this statue will be a fitting tribute to these heroes. We are examining the most suitable place in Cardiff Bay to site it when it is completed.”

Vaughan Gething, the Senedd member whose constituency includes Cardiff Bay, said: “It has taken Wales a long time to honour some of these sporting heroes and I believe this statue will leave a long-lasting legacy where the greatness of these players is recorded for future generations.

More information on the project can be found at