Poster of the Week: Rugby League Cup Final

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Rugby League Cup Final, Charles Burton, 1930

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This weekend Wembley stadium will host the final of Rugby League’s knock-out tournament the Tetley’s Challenge Cup. 80,000 fans are expected to converge on Wembley to watch Hull FC battle Wigan Warriors for the trophy.  This week’s posters were created back in the 1930’s to advertise the same event. The competition was first held in 1897 and was traditionally played at the end of the Rugby season in April or May. In 2005 the timing of the final was changed and it now takes place in August.

Since the early twentieth century posters featuring a variety of events and pastimes have been used to encourage passengers onto the Underground, often to sporting fixtures across London. These two examples are panel posters, which were designed for display inside Underground railway carriages. Their small size made them economical to print and they could be produced in large numbers just a few weeks ahead of an event.

Wembley was built in 1923 as the new national stadium, in readiness for the Empire Exhibition that took place the following year. People flocked there by Underground to see their favourite teams and activities. The Rugby League Cup Final was first held at Wembley in 1929 and has been played there ever-since.

Created in 1930 as one of a series of event posters, the simplicity and clarity of Charles Burton’s design belies its impact. It conveys the energy and excitement of a hard-won try as a player pushes forward to ground the ball just over the touchline. The designer was known for his bold, modern imagery and the hand drawn lettering that appears in many of his posters. The Rugby League Cup Final promoted in Burton’s poster was played in front of a crowd of over 36,000. It saw Widnes win the championship by beating St Helens 10 points to 3.

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Rugby League Cup Final, Herry Perry, 1933

Spectator sports like football and Rugby became increasingly popular during the 1930s. This second poster was created in 1933 by one of the Underground’s most successful and prolific female designers Herry Perry. Between 1928 and 1937 Perry designed 55 posters for the Underground Group and London Transport, many of which advertised sporting fixtures. Perry’s vibrant design captures the frenetic energy of a game and highlights the Underground’s capacity to bring rugby fans right into the heart of the action.

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