Standing 50 centimetres tall, the trophy that will be raised by the winners of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 is a study in craftsmanship and tradition. And the eight teams participating in the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final in Auckland, will get an early glimpse of the main prize as it is unveiled at the showcase event.
The original trophy was donated by the Royal Bank of Scotland at the IFWHA World Cup in Edinburgh in 1975 and then used again at the 1979 IFWHA World Cup before being used for the first time at the FIH World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1983. This followed the merger of the IFWHA and the International Hockey Federation. The original was a lovely silver bowl – or quaich as it is known in Scotland – with intricate engravings of thistles adorning it. Unfortunately, it was a much smaller trophy than the equivalent Men’s World Cup trophy and so, as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) pursues its aim to achieve gender parity in all areas of the game, a revised women’s trophy was required.
And so enter the master craftspeople of London-based goldsmiths and silversmiths, Thomas Lyte.
The luxury brand designs, makes and restores sports trophies for a wide range of top level events, including the Webb-Ellis Rugby World Cup, golf’s Ryder Cup, rugby’s Six Nations, the FIBA World Cup, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger and the English Football Association’s FA Cup. The company also holds a Royal Warrant as suppliers of silversmith and goldsmith services to the British royal household.
Andrew Jones is one of the Directors of Thomas Lyte and he explained how the luxury brand became involved with the FIH.
“I was approached by the FIH with an interesting project to turn the ‘salad bowl’ as it was affectionately known, into a trophy that was comparable to the men’s trophy. The designs the team at FIH had come up with were fantastic, it was a case of us working out how we could meet their ideas and increase the size of the trophy to match the men’s without losing its original design.”
Among the stipulations made by the FIH design team were that the trophy was similar in height, weight and style to the men’s trophy. It also had to incorporate the original trophy in some way.
The original Women’s World Cup trophy stood at 13 centimetres, so some major additions were needed to raise its stature by a further 35 centimetres. The extra height comes from a beautifully decorated plinth and a heavily embellished silver column. The original silver bowl has had to be replaced with an identical one because its age was beginning to show and it would not have lasted another raucous celebration. The gold-played handles however, are the original handles and have been attached to the new silver bowl, which sits proudly atop the plinth and column.
The plinth is detachable because weight would be an issue if the entire trophy was handed to the winning team.
Matching the design to the Men’s Hockey World Cup trophy has presented some challenges.
Both trophies have intricate engravings on the column. For the women’s trophy these carvings will mirror the thistle emblems that decorated the original. The neck of the trophy has a gold-plated pattern which adds an extra layer of decoration. The whole trophy, Jones said with justifiable pride, “will look stunning.”
At time of writing the trophy was nearing completion before it embarked on its journey from London to New Zealand, where it is to unveiled at the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final. Jones explained the many stages the trophy had been through.
“The entire project was managed by one of our silversmiths. In this case Kevin Hart has been the man at the helm. We met with the FIH representative to discuss the designs and also to show them what level of work goes into making a trophy of this calibre.
“The process involves a silversmith spinning the silver on a lathe. An external craftsman who we work with on many projects created the plinth. We had an engraver working on the decorative patterns on the plinth and column and a different engraver added the wording on the silver bowl. The most challenging aspect is for the project manager to bring all the elements together, to our deadline.”
It is not just the design elements that must be taken into consideration. Jones points out that the trophy must also be practical. He laughs as he recalls the discussions around the Rugby World Cup trophy. “We had to think carefully about the size of the handles on the trophy. Would they be large enough for the hands of the biggest rugby players? Martin Johnson [captain of England in 2003] for example. And we have to make sure the trophy is not too heavy because that can also cause problems during the presentation and as the trophy is being passed around.”
Among the eight teams participating in Auckland, where the trophy is making its debut appearance, there will be a lot of players secretly dreaming lifting the trophy in London on 5 August 2018.