Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship: BBC explores the symbolism of iconic trophies as live sports continue to inspire during the pandemic

Wales still have one hand on the Guinness Six Nations trophy, but France snatched away the chance of a grand slam last weekend in dramatic fashion, keeping their own hopes of winning the tournament alive. And what a trophy it is; a six-sided objet d’art that was designed and made by none other than the Queen’s goldsmiths and silversmiths, Thomas Lyte.

“It is made from seven kilograms of Sterling silver and an enormous amount of passion and art and desire as more than 200 hours of work go into it,” said Kevin Baker, CEO, Thomas Lyte in an interview with the BBC’s World Business Report, who have explored what it takes to design and make such an iconic sporting symbol.

Makers of iconic sporting trophies such as the one on show in Paris this Friday have always been about much more than merely business, though there is obviously a money side to it all.

Trophies can cost anything from a few thousand pounds to more than a million, though a significant piece of silver such as the Six Nations trophy will cost tens of thousands of pounds to design and make, Baker explained in the interview with the BBC World Service radio, though he declined to be more specific due to client confidentiality.

“It is a significant investment,” he acknowledged, albeit an obviously important one for the sports and the tournaments, given that they play such important roles in our lives.

“It is ultimately the event symbol,” Mr Baker said, and as such a trophy will also be a symbol of hope for us all as we face difficult times due to the global Covid pandemic.

“Sport has been an enormously resilient asset that has supported all of us, or many of us, in terms of both mental health and entertainment,” Baker said.



A redesigned trophy for an expanded tournament…

The Six Nations trophy is a prime example of a powerful symbol of both inclusiveness and unity; values that are truly important during times such as these.

The six-sided trophy was made as recently as in 2016 to reflect the facts that there are now six nations playing in the championship.

“It was only the second time a trophy was made in almost 140 years since the 1883 tournament started,” said Baker.

The bespoke trophy was handmade by expert British silversmiths in Thomas Lyte’s London workshops, and was presented to the winners on 21st March, 2016. The 1993 edition of the trophy was retired as it only represented the Five Nations Championship before Italy joined the tournament.

Hand spun from hallmarked sterling silver, the 75cm high Trophy underwent the process of casting, spinning, hand engraving and polishing. Crafted from one single sheet of silver for the body and more than fifty individual pieces, the six-sided Trophy represents each competing nation with each nation’s crest engraved on the plinth.

“There are many trade secrets to it,” said Baker. “When you look at some of these iconic pieces, made from many traditional crafts techniques, some that go back to Roman times, such as hammers and chisels. But then we add in leading edge technology, such as 3D scanning and 3D printing, so there are many processes going on.”

But perhaps the most important part of a sports trophy such as this one is the way it encompasses both the distinctive history of the tournament and its exciting future.

“There’s been no crowds during matches recently, but live sports have indeed continued,” Baker said.

Listen to Thomas Lyte CEO Kevin Baker on BBC World Service Radio’s World Business Report. The interview starts at 17m20s.




The Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship

The Guinness Six Nations Rugby Trophy

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