One Team. One Race: Honouring the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers
Some of the country’s greatest sporting heroes are to be immortalised in a permanent artwork designed to ensure their stories – and the story of the proud and vibrant multi-cultural community which helped shape them – are never forgotten.
‘One Team – One Race, Honouring the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers’ launched on Sporting Heritage Day, 2020.
The project will raise money to create three statues chosen from 13 sports stars who made a telling contribution playing in Rugby League over the past 120 years.
All thirteen nominees grew up within a three-mile radius of Cardiff Bay. Many battled prejudice and racism before leaving Wales to find fame as Rugby League superstars in the North of England.
Finding the Top 3 Codebreakers
A panel of experts narrowed down 13 nominees (the number of players in a Rugby League team) and the public were invited to take part by voting for their top three.
Billy Boston, Gus Risman and Clive Sullivan have been selected to adorn a statue to commemorate the Cardiff Bay Codebreakers.
The public and a special panel of experts agreed on the trio who will now be immortalised on a statue that will represent all the players who headed north from the Cardiff Bay area to star in the 13-a-side game.
The public were offered a list of 13 former greats who were all born in an area that took in the old Tiger Bay, Butetown, Grangetown, Adamsdown and Splott areas of south Cardiff and invited to vote for their favourite three.
All the players were then awarded extra points for their career successes before a seven strong panel of experts, including the current captains of the Welsh men’s and women’s rugby league teams, Elliot Kear and Rafique Taylor, as well as all-time greats Jim Mills and Jonathan Davies, were presented with the top six selections.
They were given the chance to choose their top three, earning extra points for their picks, to complete the selection process. All members of the panel agreed with the public vote and so Boston, Risman and Sullivan will now join forces on a plinth that will also remember the other 10 players.
More than £300,000 needs to be raised to complete a statue, which will be erected in the heart of the Cardiff Bay area. Fund raising has already begun and Sir Stan is hoping the public will back the appeal as strongly as they did the voting. It is hoped the whole process can be completed within two years.
Meet the Cardiff Bay Rugby League Giants XIII
Make a donation
Help us raise the required funds to create the three permanent pieces of artwork.
Included among the 13 Rugby Codebreakers, who all hail from the Cardiff Bay area and surrounding neighbourhoods are:
3 World Cup winners
9 Great Britain internationals
12 Welsh internationals
3 Rugby League Hall of Famers
4 members of the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame Roll of Honour
7 players who won 17 Challenge Cup finals
The 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.
Businessman and philanthropist, Sir Stanley Thomas OBE, will take on the role as the chairman of the fund-raising committee, which also comprises community leaders from Butetown as well as representatives from Wales Rugby League and the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.
The project has the full backing of Cardiff Council, having been convened by council leader Cllr Huw Thomas, who is also vice chair of the committee.
‘One Team – One Race. Honouring the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers’ is gaining charitable status by partnering with ‘The Heritage & Cultural Exchange Archive – Tiger Bay and the World’, a highly-respected charity already established in the heart of the old Tiger Bay area. The committee is also supported and advised by Capital Law and Azets Accountants.
What they have to say about the project
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.
The exceptional achievements of so many rugby players from Cardiff Bay’s, multi-cultural melting pot have for too long been overlooked. They not only brought honour to themselves, their city and their nation, but also helped to break down the barriers of racism and social injustice. They strode confidently into the wider world, and their example and achievements are an inspiration to us and future generations. It is time for Cardiff to properly celebrate them.
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.
This project will be a huge educational tool for the youngsters in the Butetown area and will act as an inspiration for everyone. What these players achieved on the sporting field was remarkable, but their exploits run much deeper than that. Many of them played a part in breaking down social and racial barriers. More than that, they all proved that you can come from Butetown and the Cardiff Bay area and conquer the world.
I grew up in the same community in Tiger Bay as the Bostons, Dixons and Freemans. They were heroes to us then for their achievements and they still are. We want their great deeds to be recorded for future generations so they can be a constant source of encouragement and inspiration.
This is a fantastic project that has our wholehearted support and backing. Cardiff has produced so many of the world’s finest rugby league players and a statue to recognise their outstanding achievements is the most fitting way to not only record their incredible contributions, but also to act as an inspiration for the future. None of them ever forgot their roots, but they were able to leave their own communities and use their considerable sporting talents to enhance not only their own reputations, but also that of Wales.
National Sporting Heritage Day exists to share and celebrate the amazing sporting heritage which exists in our communities. Sporting Heritage encourages individuals and organisations to use the event to raise awareness of previously unrecognised or under-represented sporting heritage. This project embodies that ethos and will begin to share so many diverse achievements for the first time whilst acting as inspirational stories for the future.