Auckland artist Natalie Stamilla’s bronze sculpture of Michael Jones diving across the try line at the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup was unveiled today by rugby legend, Sir Brian Lochore at a ceremony that took place at Eden Park. Also in attendance at the event were Michael Jones and John Hart.
The sculpture design is based on a photograph of the iconic image that was captured by Geoff Dale, Natalie’s father, who worked as a press photographer during the 1987 Rugby World Cup tournament and is the result of more than two years of efforts by the artist to design, secure funding and sculpt.
Standing more than 3 metres high, and 4.2 metres long , the sculpture is 150% greater than life size and weighs close to 1 tonne – which is approximately three-times the combined weight of the current New Zealand rugby team’s forward pack.
Contractors Bonding Limited (CBL) provided the estimated $300,000 funding for the sculpture, which will be placed on permanent loan and displayed at the redeveloped Eden Park just outside Entrance C of the ASB Stand on Walters Road.
CBL CEO Peter Harris said, “We are incredibly proud to have been involved in supporting the creation of such an iconic piece of New Zealand art that celebrates a great moment in our sporting 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 believe that this sculpture symbolises not only Michael, but all of New Zealand’s sportspeople who have achieved great things through sport. We are not always good at commemorating our heroes, but this sculpture is a small step in celebrating the effort and dedication that many of our sportspeople show both on the field and in our communities.
“We hope that all visitors who come to Eden Park to witness great sporting moments in the future, will enjoy the sculpture for many years.”
According to the sculptor Natalie Stamilla, more than 10,000 man hours have gone into creating the large-scale bronze sculpture, to bring the project to life.
Commenting on the development of the sculpture Natalie said, “This project has been a labour of love for me given the strong family connection I have to this iconic image. I’ve worked incredibly hard for more than 2 years to bring my father’s photograph to life and am incredibly proud to see the sculpture unveiled here at Eden Park.
“I’d especially like to thank Michael Jones for giving us permission to develop the sculpture, CBL for providing the funding, the Eden Park Trust Board for providing the sculpture with a home and the foundry Bronze Art for their professionalism in casting the sculpture.”
The sculpture was cast in bronze by the foundry Bronze Art, who used more than 450 kilos of silicon bronze, to create the sculpture. The sculpture is also a feat of engineering, with a combination of solid and hollow stainless steel rods, weighing more than 500 kilograms, being used internally to support the sculpture, which shows Michael’s outstretched body diving through the air and scoring the try.
Eden Park CEO David Kennedy has welcomed the latest addition to the grounds of the stadium commenting, “It is fantastic to be able to provide a home to this iconic image of Michael Jones. Many great sporting moments have occurred, and will continue to be created, at Eden Park, and this sculpture is a wonderful celebration of sporting achievement.”