On the eve of the game that marks 50 years of the ‘Gladiators’, the National Rugby League and Telstra have announced that Rugby League’s most cherished prize, the Telstra Premiership Grand Final Trophy, has been renamed the Provan-Summons Trophy.
The legendary Norm Provan and Arthur Summons learned the news at the Sydney Cricket Ground this evening as they revisited the location of their historic embrace that followed the 1963 Grand Final.
Its message of triumph, courage and sportsmanship on a muddied SCG pitch has become one of the most enduring symbols of the game.
Their sculptured image, based on the historic image of the late Fairfax photographer John O’Gready, has been a feature of every Premiership trophy since 1982.
This is the first time, however, that it will be officially named the Provan-Summons Trophy.
Mr Provan and Mr Summons were surprised with the news as they went to mark the very spot where they had stood 50 years ago, not knowing of the tribute the NRL and naming rights partner Telstra had in store.
“If I drop dead tomorrow I will always be happy with the life Rugby League has given me,” Provan said tonight.
“I’ve played a lot of football and I'm sure there are a lot of other worthy recipients.
“I am immensely pleased with it and it will sink in later how much it means.”
Summons added: “I don't think you can put it in to words the emotions that you feel. It is probably the greatest honour old footballers can get to have the Premiership trophy named after you.
“I am extremely honoured and I’m sure Norm is as well. A lot of thanks should be going to the photographer. Unfortunately the great John O'Gready is not with us to share this moment with us. Without him we would have been forgotten 50 years ago.”
The NRL’s principal sponsor Telstra has been a willing partner in dedicating the trophy in honour of the two great heroes.
NRL Chief Executive, Mr Dave Smith, paid tribute to Norm and Arthur for their ongoing legacy to the game:
“Not only were they legendary players but they have been the most amazing ambassadors for the game,” Mr Smith said.
“Nobody can think of Grand Final Day without ‘The Gladiators’ image coming to mind and it has been tremendous to work with Telstra to make this tribute possible.”
Mr Smith said Telstra has been a driving force in dedicating the trophy in honour of the two great Rugby League heroes.
Group Managing Director, Telstra Media, Mr Rick Ellis, said Telstra is proud to support the dedication of the Telstra Premiership Trophy to two players who embody the true legacy of the game.
“Norm Provan and Arthur Summons showed fans and players alike that there was something more enduring than the score-line and today their legacy reminds us that the business of sport is about great people and great champions,” said Mr Ellis.
In celebration of the 1963 Grand Final, St George Illawarra Dragons and Wests Tigers will play at the SCG this Saturday afternoon, 50 years to the day of the 1963 decider.