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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 12:30 GMT
Welsh Wilkinson statue sells out
Jonny Wilkinson Grogg
Makers have been inundated with Jonny Wilkinson Grogg orders
After becoming England's World Cup hero and receiving an MBE from the queen, Jonny Wilkinson has taken another accolade - becoming the fastest-selling Grogg in Wales.

Orders for the Welsh-made Wilkinson statue have reached such a level in the wake of England's World Cup triumph, that the Pontypridd-based Grogg Shop has a queue for orders stretching into January.

Grogg statues - caricatures of legendary rugby players such as Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams - are something of a south Wales cult which are now exported all over the rugby-playing world.

The Grogg Shop in Treforest, just outside Cardiff, made a nine-inch high Wilkinson Grogg following England's Grand Slam success earlier this year.

As a result, they have been inundated with Wilkinson orders from fans across the world following the England fly-half's performances in Australia, overshadowing the usual Christmas sales of Welsh rugby greats.

'Old-fashioned hero'

Shop owner John Hughes, told BBC Wales News Online that Wilkinson's appeal transcended traditional rugby rivalry between Wales and England.

"A lot of people like Wilkinson - he's an old-fashioned hero," said Mr Hughes.

"He's like Neil Jenkins, who is still one of our biggest-selling Groggs.

"People identify with him, regardless of the fact that he doesn't play for their team."

England winning the World Cup wasn't exactly convenient in the build-up to Christmas
Grogg shop owner John Hughes

Mr Hughes added that supply of the 59.95 statue could not keep up with the massive demand and he had sold out.

"Groggs are effectively hand-produced and we can't keep up with the level of orders we've had for the Wilkinson Grogg," he said.

"England winning the World Cup wasn't exactly convenient in the build-up to Christmas - it's virtually turned me into a clerk with the phone ringing off the hook for Wilkinson Groggs.

"I'd love to take everyone's money, but I can't. The order book is now stretching into January."

Mr Hughes set up the Grogg shop in Treforest, Pontypridd, in 1965.

Since then, the nine-inch figures have become a Welsh institution with figures made of all the country's major rugby heroes and even figures of Welsh entertainment including Tom Jones and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Mr Hughes added: "It used to be 100% Welsh statues until the 1980s when English collectors criticised us for not producing enough of their players.

"We had produced a number of Wilkinson, Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio Groggs, but demand for Wilkinson has now gone through the roof.

"We've had orders from Japan, France and Dubai as well as from England and Wales."




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