Auckland artist Natalie Stamilla announced today that she had been able to secure funding to cover all costs related to commemorate the moment that All Black great Michael Jones dived across the line to be the first person to score a try in the opening game of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 at Eden Park.
The sculpture, which is estimated to cost around $300,000 to create, will be cast of bronze and will be 150 per cent greater than life size once completed. It will be placed on permanent loan and displayed at the redeveloped Eden Park.
Contractors Bonding Ltd (CBL) has agreed to provide the funding needed to construct and install the sculpture.
CBL CEO Peter Harris said “We were attracted to this project when media coverage late last year highlighted that this project may not go ahead because of a lack of funding. We felt that this sculpture just had to be made, so our executive team decided we should step into the breach and support it.
“As a New Zealand organisation doing business in several parts of the world, we are incredibly proud of our heritage and feel privileged to be part of this project to commemorate a moment in New Zealand’s sporting heritage that has now become a stand-out moment in world rugby history.
“Not only was Michael Jones the first ever try scorer in the first Rugby World Cup, he is a truly inspirational Kiwi who has had a great influence on rugby communities here, in Samoa and around the world. We are not good at commemorating our heroes, and frankly we should do more of it,” said Mr Harris.
Sculptor Natalie Stamilla says that she is thrilled to have the backing of CBL. “With the sculpture being based on an iconic photo taken by my father capturing the actual try being scored, it means a lot to me personally and professionally that the sculpture is going ahead.
“The sculpture is designed to be enjoyed by sporting fans and art lovers alike. Being able to have the sculpture on permanent loan at Eden Park means that everyone who visits the stadium will be able to enjoy it, along with the other art that is now being introduced into the stadium.”
The sculpture design is based on a photograph of the iconic image that was captured by Geoff Dale, Natalie Stamilla’s father, who worked as a press photographer during the 1987 Rugby World Cup tournament.
The sculpture pattern has just been completed with casting expected to begin shortly at Artworks Foundry in New Lynn, Auckland to ensure that it will be completed and installed by August in time for the opening games of this year’s tournament.
Eden Park CEO David Kennedy commented that the sculpture will be a welcome addition to the stadium. “We’re delighted to host the Michael Jones sculpture at Eden Park. There have been a lot of great sporting moments occur at Eden Park, and we expect to see many more in the years to come. The sculpture acknowledges and symbolises one of the great sporting moments that has taken place on these grounds.”
Auckland Mayor Len Brown is also excited about the project. “Michael Jones is a legend of New Zealand rugby. Aucklanders will feel rightly proud seeing him in full flight as they walk up to Rugby World Cup matches at Eden Park, captured in bronze by such a talented young Auckland artist. ”