The EPCR Challenge Cup tournament was inaugurated in 1996 as a pathway for emerging rugby clubs to compete alongside Europe’s most established. It was October 2014, when goldsmiths and silversmiths, Thomas Lyte, unveiled the new trophy. Now, this stunning piece of silverware is among the most recognisable in global sport.
Thomas Lyte, a Royal Warrant holder, as silversmiths and goldsmiths to the late Queen, have designed, made, and restored many of rugby’s most prestigious pieces of silverware, including the Webb Ellis Cup, the Six Nation’s trophies and the Heineken European Champions Cup. We are very proud to be the designers and makers of the EPCR Challenge Cup – an annual club tournament that brings together the cream of European rugby to compete for glory and iconic silverware.
The trophy is the brainchild of Thomas Lyte’s industry-leading team of designers and master crafters, which came to life in our fine silver workshops in London. The workshops have produced many of the most storied pieces of silverware in global sport.
Standing at an impressive height of 60cm and weighing 10kg, the focal point of the Challenge Cup is a silver rugby ball, which is titled upwards and supported with silver rods topped with silver stars. Those stars form an integral part of the Challenge Cup, representing both the symbol of the continent and the EPCR’s desire to see the sport spread its geographical wings across it.
Revealed alongside the EPCR Champions Cup – Europe’s premier rugby union prize – at a ceremony in the Irish capital, Dublin, the Challenge Cup proved an instant hit. The trophies were designed to symbolise the start of a new era for professional club rugby in Europe, with Gloucester lifting the first Challenge Cup in front of a packed house at the Stoop, the home of Harlequins, in West London.
Using skills dating back centuries, our craftsmen brought the design to life in our East London workshop, combining the enduring ruggedness of the sport with the timeless qualities of silversmithing. The rigorous and painstaking process of manufacturing the trophy is matched by the sign-off and The result is an extraordinary trophy that looks set to stand the test of time. No matter where it’s presented and how many hands it passes through.
In short, it’s a trophy that reflects and demonstrates both the ambition of European Club Rugby to expand the game and its reach, in addition to celebrating the exquisite and time-honoured skills that went into its design and creation here at Thomas Lyte. The sterling silver band around the base of the trophy, meanwhile, contains the name of those clubs who have lifted the trophy since the competition was first conceived, creating a link between the event’s earliest years and its modern incarnation.
The tournament itself was inaugurated in 1996 and, at various points in its history, has featured as many as 32 clubs. The primary aim of the competition was to broaden the appeal of the sport and offer greater opportunities for emerging clubs across Europe to rub shoulders with established clubs that have formed the basis of their domestic leagues for generation after generation. Primarily made up of teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and, most recently, South Africa, the competition involves a group stage before the last 16 round, which then includes teams who have dropped out of the Champions Cup at the equivalent stage.
In sporting terms, the creation of two major European club rugby competitions in the mid-1990s represented something of a revolution for the sport and signalled a shift that has only gathered in pace since. Following the example of football’s Champions League after its inception in 1992, the two ambitious new competitions set out to bring together the cream of European club rugby across the continent’s most well-established and emerging leagues.
Both competitions have since evolved into staples of the continental club rugby calendar, with the double-header finals weekend – traditionally held in the same European city over two days, with the Challenge Cup final on a Friday night and the Champions Cup on a Saturday evening – attracting rugby lovers from across the globe. They’re drawn, not just by a weekend of incredible sport and the party atmosphere generated, but also by the prospect of seeing some of the best players on planet rugby compete for and, ultimately, lift two trophies that are distinctly English in their creation.
In addition to our restoration work with the EPCR Challenge Cup, Thomas Lyte is proud to have designed and hand-crafted the majority of the sport’s other major prizes including the Rugby World Cup, the Men’s and Women’s Six Nations Trophies, and the EPCR European Champions Cup. Thomas Lyte also restores the Rugby 7’s World Cup and the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Our team make the conceivable possible, while preserving traditional skills, pioneering modern methods, and promoting authentic British craft across the globe. Combining the latest technologies with centuries of knowledge, Thomas Lyte’s silver workshops in London, England house world-class facilities for an elite team of designers and makers, masters of their craft. Learn about 3D printing, electroforming and other new technologies that our team have introduced to our sustainable handcrafting process.
Year Crafted. 2014
Materials. Sterling Silver
Workshop Processes. Folding, Annealing, Hot Forging, Cutting Out, Filing, Sanding, Chasing, Polishing, Plating and Engraving
Thomas Lyte are proud to be the designers and makers of the EPCR Challenge Cup trophy, a distinctive, modern trophy handcrafted for European professional club rugby.
Take a glance at these fast facts about this iconic sporting trophy.