While rugby players are known for their statuesque physiques a new five-tonne sculpture has left them in its shadow.
The 27ft tall bronze sculpture, depicting a rugby line-out, will welcome fans to Twickenham Stadium from its spot on the South Stand piazza.
It is set to be seen by millions across the world as the stadium prepares to host the opening and final matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Created by Pop artist and sculptor Gerald Laing, the bronze of five rugby players was unveiled at a ceremony on Friday, attended by Richmond
Council leader Nick True and rugby stars, including England team manager Martin Johnson.
Engraved around the bottom of the statue are the five core values of the game of rugby union – teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship – to ensure they have a lasting legacy at
the home of England rugby.
President of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) John Owen said: ”This is not art for art’s sake but art for rugby’s sake.
“We’ve dedicated it to the core values of our sport.”
It is the fifth sculpture created by Mr Laing for the stadium and marks the completion of the South Stand development. His other four sculptures have adorned the entrance to the West Stand for more
than 15 years.
Costing £455,250, the sculpture was originally created in clay, scanned on to a computer and set in bronze by the Black Isle Bronze foundry in Scotland.
It made the journey to the stadium in a lorry and trailer, which was stopped three times by police.
Mr Laing thanked the RFU for once again choosing him to create an iconic sculpture at the stadium and said he chose to depict a line-out as it was a “particularly dramatic” part of “the most
dramatic of games”.
He said: “I thank the RFU for having the courage and conviction to commission this sculpture.”
He compared the potential catcher to Knight of the Round Table, Sir Percival, on the quest for the Holy Grail.
However, unlike the knight’s success it remains unclear if the rugby player has caught the ball or not.
The statue impressed Mr Johnson, who despite being 6ft 7in, only came up to the waist of the standing players in the sculpture.
He said: “Sitting there you couldn’t judge the scale of it. It’s impressive.”
Council leader Nick True said: ”It’s fantastic. I’m hugely impressed. It will be considered a great bit of art for generations to come.”