It may be diminutive in stature, but Thomas Lyte are hugely proud to be the restorers of one of world rugby’s most prestigious trophies – the Melrose Cup, awarded to the winner of the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The sport has undergone a rapid transformation since its appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and is now one of the globally recognised versions of a sport that had endured 92-year Olympic hiatus before its rebirth in Brazil.
Thomas Lyte has worked across the broadest possible range of sports, establishing ourselves as one of the industry’s most trusted and forward-thinking silversmiths. A Royal Warrant holder as goldsmiths and silversmiths to Her Majesty the Queen, Thomas Lyte has designed, made and restored some of the most instantly recognisable trophies in the sporting world, including the Emirates FA Cup and, in rugby, both the men’s and women’s Six Nation Trophies. The job of restoring the Melrose Cup, first played for in 1993, is an extension of a lengthy partnership with World Rugby.
“Thomas Lyte delights in seeing sports grow – and few have developed as quickly as Rugby Sevens in recent years,” said Thomas Lyte director, Andrew Jones. “The Rugby World Cup Sevens sits at the pinnacle of the sport, and we naturally take enormous pleasure and pride in playing our part in restoring the trophy year on year, as we do in all our extensive work with World Rugby.”
Since the first World Cup was contested in Edinburgh in 1993, the trophy has been awarded in six different continents – an indication of Rugby Sevens’ continual and ever-growing global appeal, particularly in countries such as the USA.
The Melrose Cup is a fine illustration of the old saying that ‘size isn’t everything’ and the fascinating history of the trophy ensures that its enduring appeal extends to all four corners of the earth.
Named after the town in Scotland in which the sport was first invented – with a local butcher boy coming up with the idea as part of a fundraiser for the hard-up Melrose club in 1883 – the Cup is one of the smallest to pass through Thomas Lyte’s London workshop. But the thrill it generates when it comes through the door is the same now as it was when our highly-skilled and experienced craftsmen first came across it.
As restorers of the Webb Ellis trophy – the Rugby World Cup to most – Thomas Lyte are no strangers to working with rugby’s most prestigious prizes. The Cup itself was donated to the International Rugby Board – the forerunner to World Rugby – by the Scottish RFU before the first ever Sevens World Cup in the Scottish capital in 1993, and regularly returns to us for running repairs.
Like any trophy of its kind, the Melrose Cup has a life all of its own, regularly touring the world in between the tournament in order to promote the sport and inspire the next generation of Sevens’ players.
In doing so, our team of silversmiths and goldsmiths, incorporate centuries-old skills with the very latest in cutting-edge technology. The work that’s required to restore the trophy is wide-ranging – from the removal of light scratches or minor dents, to more acute restorative work. After our master-craftsmen have done their work, our team of world-class polishers bring the trophy back to its original state. We also use our state-of-the-art electroplating tanks to maintain the trophy’s stunning 9ct gold plating.
The history of this particular version of rugby is every bit as colourful as that of its 15 player counterpart, with the World Cup the culmination of over a century of development. From its earliest roots on the banks of the River Tweed, through to the SRU Centenary Sevens, which marked a hundred years of the Scottish RFU in 1973, the sport has entertained and inspired wherever it has been played.
The first World Cup was, fittingly, held in the sport’s birthplace and attracted 24 teams for an event which took place over two days at Murrayfield in April 1993. The international feel of the tournament increased after tournaments in Hong Kong, Argentina and Dubai over the next 16 years. San Francisco’s hosting of the event in 2018 coincided with Sevens Rugby being named the fastest growing team sport in the USA.
Thomas Lyte’s links with the sport of rugby run deep. In addition to restoring the Melrose Cup, we are also proud and honoured to restore both the men’s and women’s World Cups, through a long running relationship with the sport’s governing body, World Rugby. Thomas Lyte have also designed and made the Premiership Rugby Sevens Trophy; the Men’s and Women’s Six Nations Trophies; the EPCR Champions Cup; the EPCR Challenge Cup and the Lions Series Trophy.