Statue of Rugby Codebreakers to be unveiled


A statue celebrating three legendary Welsh ‘Rugby Codebreakers' is due to be revealed in Cardiff Bay next week.

The statue celebrating Billy Boston, Clive Sullivan, and Gus Risman will be unveiled during a public ceremony in Landsea Square in Mermaid Quay on Wednesday 19thJuly at 11am. It will be the firststatue in Wales ever to feature non-fictionalised, named black men.

All three players featured on the statue grew up within a three-mile radius of the Cardiff Bay area, and went on to become some of the country's greatest sporting heroes. 

Established in 2020, the ‘One Team. One Race: Honouring the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers' project behind the statue was inspired to begin fundraising for a statue following calls from the Butetown and wider Cardiff Bay community for a fitting tribute to the players who did so much to improve race relations across Britain. 

Businessman and philanthropist, Sir Stanley Thomas OBE, took on the role as the chairman of the fundraising committee and kick started the fundraising campaign with a significant personal donation. 

Sir Stanley Thomas OBE, said:
"I am delighted that we are now close to the point where the statue will be revealed to the public, and these wonderful sporting heroes will finally receive the recognition they deserve, in the city where they grew up."

The three players featured on the statue were selected by a public vote. All have been honoured in some form in other areas of the UK, but the statue in Cardiff Bay, created by sculptor Steve Winterburn, will be the first formal recognition of the sporting heroes in their hometown.

Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said:
"These incredible players brought honour to themselves, their families, the game, and the proud multi-cultural communities where they were brought up. Once in place, the statue will ensure their stories live on as a constant source of inspiration for future generations." 

Chair of the Heritage and Cultural Exchange, Gaynor Legall, said:
"The installation of the statue will mean a lot to us, something that looks like us and is about us and our story; that shares the pride that we have in those individuals with the rest of Wales. Having statues that celebrate their achievements is not just for the people of Tiger Bay but for Wales." 


Billy Boston

Born on 6 August, 1934 in Angelina Street, Billy went to South Church Street School and played for Cardiff Schools, Cardiff and District Rugby Union, Boys Clubs of Wales, Wales Youth, the CIACS and Neath in rugby union.

While still a teenager, he signed for Wigan RL for £3,000. He went on to score 478 tries in 487 matches for them, helping them to win the six Challenge Cup finals they reached in his 15 seasons at the club.

Billy also scored twice in Wigan's 1960 Championship final victory to earn them their first title in eight years, and picked up two Lancashire League and one Lancashire Cup winners medals.

Internationally, he won the World Cup with Great Britain and played 31 times for the Lions, becoming their first black tourist in Australia.

Billy is in the Rugby League and Wigan Halls of Fame, on the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame's ‘Roll of Honour' and was made MBE for his services to sport. He also has a statue dedicated to him at Wigan and is included on the Rugby League statue at Wembley Stadium.


Clive Sullivan

Born in Splott on 9 April, 1943, Clive became the first black captain of any Great Britain side and led his country to the 1972 Rugby League World Cup title, scoring a try in each of his side's four games in the tournament, including a length-of-the-field effort against Australia that earned a 10-10 draw to clinch the trophy.

He joined the Army from school and had rugby league trials in his late teens. He eventually joined Hull and went on to play 352 games for the club, scoring 250 tries. He later switched to Hull Kingston Rovers and added 118 tries in 213 games. He won the Challenge Cup with both clubs.

In 1966-67 he made his full Great Britain debut, marking the first of his 17 caps by scoring the winning try against France in the last minute. He also featured in the 1968 World Cup series in Australia and captained Wales at the 1975 World Cup.

In 1974 he was honoured with an MBE and he is on the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame ‘Roll of Honour'. The main road into Hull was named ‘Clive Sullivan Way' in his honour.


Gus Risman

The son of Russian immigrants who settled in Tiger Bay, Gus was born on 23 March, 1911, in Sophia Street and went to South Church Street School. His parents ran a boarding house and then moved to Barry to run a cafe when Gus was 11. He became one of the greatest rugby players produced by Wales, captaining the 15-a-side team in War Time internationals despite being a rugby league legend.

His rugby league career statistics are staggering and he is a member of the Rugby League and Workington Halls of Fame as well as being on the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame ‘Roll of Honour'. He already has a street named after him in Salford and Workington and is on the Rugby League statue at Wembley Stadium.

Between 1929 and 1954 he scored 4,052 points in 873 games for Salford and Workington Town. He also played in 36 Test matches for Great Britain, playing in five Ashes winning series, and won 18 Welsh caps.

He won four Rugby League Championships, went to Wembley for the Challenge Cup final three times, picked up five Lancashire League titles and three Lancashire Cup winners medals. He was captain of the Workington Town team that won the Challenge Cup at 41.