As part of its rebranding, the United Rugby Championship (URC) commissioned a new trophy. This incredibly unique piece of silverware, a new icon for international club rugby, is named “The Array”, and was handcrafted in London by master silversmiths and world-famous trophy makers Thomas Lyte.
Thomas Lyte are incredibly proud to be the makers of the URC trophy, designed to be one of the most extraordinary trophies in world sport. Commissioned in 2021, we handcrafted the new trophy in time for it to be lifted by the DHL Stormers in the 2022 grand final.
Before the rebrand, URC was first created in 1999, originally as the Celtic League, involving only teams from Wales and Scotland. The URC has since grown to establish itself as one of the standout tournaments in the global game.
“Global” is the keyword, with the URC now incorporating teams, not only from Wales and Scotland but also from Ireland and, since 2021, South Africa too. With a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup up for grabs, there’s plenty to play for. Not least one of the sport’s most spectacular trophies.
Masterfully handcrafted by world-renowned trophy makers Thomas Lyte, the URC trophy is one of the most striking in world rugby. Designed by Bath-based award-winning design agency, Matter, the trophy came to life in our London workshops – fine silver workshops that are no strangers to fabled sporting silverware. This trophy, though, is something else entirely.
Standing at 68 centimetres tall and weighing 20 kilograms, the main body of the silver-plated trophy was hand-spun on a lathe from a single sheet of metal. The arms of the trophy were first designed on a computer in 3D before each being 3D printed and electroformed. This is a feat of engineering brilliance from a pioneering team that are experts in handcrafting bespoke silverware from scratch. Specialists in finding solutions when there are no instruction manuals.
A perfect example of this innovative approach is found in the blue aluminium lid, or “crown”, of the trophy. The crown is stamped with the tournament logo and engraved with its name, designed to be easy to remove by twisting it, yet tight enough to stay in place during raucous celebrations. Appearing to levitate above the trophy, URC plans to change the crown year-on-year.
By far the most striking innovation built into the trophy’s design and executed by our industry-leading team, is the ability to shine a light from underneath the trophy, all the way up through a water-tight chamber that rises up through the trophy’s body. The reflective and highly polished silver-plated surfaces illuminate the blue lid from underneath, producing a glowing effect. All the while, the trophy can be filled with your chosen drink, and can easily be drunk from by the winning team.
The URC is synonymous with rugby’s open-minded attitude to boldness and innovation and the trophy is very much a reflection of those deeply-held beliefs. It’s also a trophy that has been influenced by those directly involved in the sport. Consultation is key when it comes to creating a trophy with an enduring allure. So, early in the process, former coaches and players who have lifted the URC trophy in the past were asked for their views. Those opinions then fed directly into the design process.
There were three key considerations. The first was weight, the second was size and the third was the ability to be able to drink from the trophy – after all, what’s the point in lifting a trophy that can’t then be filled with bubbles or beer in the post-match celebration!
The notion of the team ethic ran like a theme throughout the design and production process. Named “the Array”, the trophy’s striking exterior is formed by joining together four U-shaped arms, with each one reflecting the country they’re representing, be it Wales, Scotland, Ireland, or South Africa. The shield of each nation is etched on each of those arms. While the word Champions – written in four different languages – is also engraved. The design effectively gives the trophy eight handles – lending itself to being held aloft by a group of teammates rather than one individual after being won.
The materials and appearance of the trophy are a tribute to the blend of power and finesse that is witnessed on the field of play over the course of a URC season. The outer arms, meanwhile, have a burnt, industrial quality that represents the physicality and raw power of the sport.
The highly polished silver and intricate detailing embody the skill and precision required to create moments of rugby brilliance from the team involved in the tournament.
The United Rugby Championship (URC) trophy is just one example of Thomas Lyte’s work within rugby. As a long-established partner of both World Rugby and European Rugby, the company has designed, made and restored some of the sport’s most prestigious prizes, including the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the Men’s Guinness Six Nations Trophy and Women’s Six Nations Trophy. We are also immensely proud to be the official restorers of both the Rugby 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.
Materials. Brass, Silver Plate + Aluminium
Workshop Processes. Spinning, 3D Printing, Electroforming, Stamping, Casting, Filing, Sanding, Polishing, Plating, Assembling, and Engraving
Thomas Lyte are proud to be the makers of the URC trophy, continuing our strong commitment to elite rugby around the globe.
Come back soon for more fast facts on this one-of-a-kind trophy.