Eddie Butler: Former Welsh rugby captain and legendary broadcaster has died aged 65


Eddie Butler made his debut for Pontypool in 1976

Former Welsh rugby union captain and legendary broadcaster and commentator Eddie Butler has died aged 65.

After rising to prominence with Pontypool, Butler played 16 times for Wales between 1980 and 1984, captaining him on six occasions and scoring two tries.

The number eight was called up for the British and Irish Lions team that toured New Zealand in 1983.

After his retirement he became a respected rugby broadcaster.

Butler died in his sleep during a charity walk in Peru.

He was a key part of the Pontypool side founded by Ray Prosser and dominated Welsh rugby in the late 1970s and early 1980s, captaining the team between 1982 and 1985.

Butler also played for Cambridge University from 1976-1978 while studying French and Spanish at Fitzwilliam College.

Butler’s first cap came in Wales’ 18-9 Five Nations win over France in January 1980.

He retired from international rugby in 1985 aged 27 and after three years as a teacher at Cheltenham, Butler joined Radio Wales as press and publicity manager in 1984.

While continuing to play for his beloved Pontypool, Butler worked for a property development company.

Eddie Butler played for Cambridge University against Oxford University in the 1977 Varsity Match
Eddie Butler played in three consecutive matches for Cambridge University against Oxford University – 1976-78

He began his career in newspaper journalism in 1988 with the Sunday Correspondent, before stints with the Observer and the Guardian and returned to BBC Wales in 1990 after bringing in new head of sport Gareth Davies.

Butler began his commentary career alongside the great Bill McLaren.

After McLaren retired, Butler became the BBC’s senior rugby commentator, where he formed a notable partnership with former England hooker Brian Moore and former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies.

Butler will be remembered for the brilliant prose that accompanied the montages of major sporting and political events, most recently the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

He also commented on Olympic sports and the Invictus Games, as well as providing the voice for emotional montages for the BBC’s NFL highlights programme.

In 2010, Butler joined a number of former Wales captains who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for Velindre Hospital, a specialist cancer treatment center in Cardiff.

Butler presented history series in 2014 including History of Wales and the World, Hidden Histories, Welsh Cities at War and two series of Welsh Cities in 2015.

He was also an author after publishing three novels and two non-fiction books.

Away from rugby and broadcasting, Butler campaigned for Welsh independence in recent years.