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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gladiators (Norm Provan and Arthur Summons), 1963 (printed 1970s)

John O'Gready

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image: 30.3 cm x 25.4 cm)

Norm Provan (b. 1932), footballer and coach, played for the St George Dragons from 1951 to 1965, taking part in ten of the Dragons’ eleven consecutive premiership wins (from 1956 to 1966), including five as captain-coach. The towering second-rower also represented his state 25 times and played for Australia in 18 Test and World Cup matches. Provan’s NSW and Kangaroos teammate, Arthur Summons (b. 1935), is one of 47 footballers to have represented Australia in both rugby codes, having played fly-half in 10 Tests for the Wallabies before joining league’s Western Suburbs Magpies in 1960. He went on to play a total of nine rugby league tests for Australia, as halfback and five-eighth, winning five out of five of his matches as captain of the all-conquering 1963 Kangaroos.

Taken after the Dragons’ 8-3 victory over Wests in the 1963 grand final, this photograph of the two captains was for a long time considered a depiction of mateship. Summons later revealed, however, that it in fact shows a moment of bitterness, when Summons refused to swap jumpers with Provan amidst talk that the officiating referee had bet £600 on a St George win. Regardless, the photo later became the model for the NRL premiership trophy. Provan and Summons were both named in the list of rugby league’s 100 Greatest Players during the game’s centenary celebrations in 2008.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

Accession number: 2009.46

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

John O'Gready (age 26 in 1963)

Norm Provan (age 31 in 1963)

Arthur Summons (age 28 in 1963)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

The Gladiators (Norm Provan and Arthur Summons), 1963 (printed 1970s) John O'Gready
The Gladiators (Norm Provan and Arthur Summons), 1963 (printed 1970s) John O'Gready
The Gladiators (Norm Provan and Arthur Summons), 1963 (printed 1970s) John O'Gready
The Gladiators (Norm Provan and Arthur Summons), 1963 (printed 1970s) John O'Gready

Who's that?

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2009

Michael Desmond discusses the iconic picture of two Rugby League players which became known as 'The Gladiators'.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.