Steve Winterburn launches new public sculpture at Leicester Tigers ground

Atop a four-metre-high monument sits Steve Winterburn’s latest public sculpture - a magnificent bronze tiger head - at the Leicester Tigers rugby union ground. Steve is no stranger to public installations showcasing his sculpture; his previous commissions include work at Wembley Stadium, Monkey World and the London Stock Exchange.

His latest monumental sculpture was unveiled by former Tiger Martin Johnson OBE in the city on Armistice Day at the club’s Welford Road ground and acknowledges the club’s links with the armed services. Designed by Harvey Spencer Gardiner, the Leicester Tigers Foundation Monument ‘When We Were Tigers’ plinth carries the names of the 54 Tigers who lost their lives in conflict. Read on to find more about Steve’s work and the moving memorial to the Leicester players.


Steve Winterburn


Steve Winterburn


Steve Winterburn

Steve Winterburn and rugby

In 2015, Steve’s spectacular sculpture ‘Rugby League Legends’ was unveiled at Wembley Stadium. Celebrating the 120th anniversary of the day the sport was created, Steve depicted five stars of the sport: Alex Murphy, Billy Boston, Eric Ashton, Martin Offiah and Gus Risman. The next year, Steve’s statue of rugby league king Billy Boston, the highest try-scorer in Wigan’s history, was unveiled in the town to great acclaim.

Hailing from the Midlands, Steve was honoured to be asked to sculpt the tiger for the Leicester memorial. “I’m Coventry born and bred so I used to come to Leicester and watch the matches when I was a kid. Thirty-odd years ago I did some designs and T-shirts for the club, so it’s nice coming back to the part of the country where I was born and brought up.

“To get a piece of my sculpture here is fantastic. It’s a great achievement for us and Castle Fine Art, who are Birmingham based, so I like all the synergy about what we created.

“The Tigers we’re paying tribute to were great servicemen and great rugby players. When these guys went out, they were doing what they needed to do as working class lads to fight for their country and they also played great rugby. It’s been an honour to do a job for these great men who went to war and fought for the lives we enjoy today.”

‘When We Were Tigers’

The monument was raised by the Leicester Tigers Foundation, who want to remember stories of courage and bravery to inspire future generations of rugby players. It also recognises the close ties between the Leicestershire Regiment and the Tigers since the club’s formation in 1880, displaying the names of its players who served and survived.

The 54 names of The Fallen include Alexander Obolensky, the Russian prince who played for the Tigers and England in the 1930s but lost his life on RAF service, and England international Frank Tarr who fell at Ypres in 1915. The memorial's plaques feature QR codes which, when scanned on mobile phones, take people to a moving film about the men.

The monument designer Harvey Gardiner, who spent six years researching the former players who died and putting together fact files about them, describes the memorial as "a special piece of ground-breaking interactive art, which links sport together with education through its technology."

Watch footage of the grand unveiling below and read more about Steve's public sculpture here.

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