Eddie Butler: Former Wales captain and BBC commentator dies aged 65

·3-min read
Before taking up the microphone, Butler was capped 16 times by Wales between 1980 and 1984 and captained the side on six occasions (Tracey Paddison/Shutterstock)
Before taking up the microphone, Butler was capped 16 times by Wales between 1980 and 1984 and captained the side on six occasions (Tracey Paddison/Shutterstock)

Eddie Butler, the legendary rugby commentator and former international known as the “voice of Wales”, has died at the age of 65.

The broadcaster was a regular part of the BBC’s coverage of rugby internationals and his resounding voice and stirring tones made him a much-loved figure.

Butler was taking part in a charity walk for Prostate Cymru in Peru when he died peacefully in his sleep, a statement from the organisation of which he was an ambassador said.

“Over the last week Ed once again showed his generosity and steadfast commitment to good causes by joining 25 Prostate Cymru fundraisers, including his daughter Nell, on the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu,” the charity said.

“In the early hours of Thursday 15 September, Ed passed away peacefully in his sleep at Ecoinka base camp in the Peruvian Andes. He leaves behind his wife Susan and six children, who are very much in our thoughts.

“The charity will not be making any immediate further comment. We also ask that the family's privacy is respected during this difficult time.”

Before taking up the microphone, Butler was capped 16 times by Wales between 1980 and 1984 and captained the side on six occasions.

Butler became the BBC’s lead rugby commentator following the retirement of Bill McLaren, whose standing as the “voice of rugby” was replicated by Butler’s impact – particularly in Wales.

In recent years, Butler formed a broadcasting partnership with the former England player Brian Moore and the ex-Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies.

Moore offered a touching social media farewell, tweeting: “I am devastated by this news.

“Ed, I’m sorry I never told you how much I admired you as a broadcaster and as a man. Well, it wasn’t like that between us, was it.

“Condolences to Sue and your family. Sport has lost an iconic voice. I have lost a very dear friend. Goodbye Edward.”

Butler captained Wales six times after rising to prominence with Pontypool in the 1970s (PA)
Butler captained Wales six times after rising to prominence with Pontypool in the 1970s (PA)

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Rob Butcher insisted his country owed Butler a sizeable debt for his contribution to the sport.

“For many Eddie was the voice of Welsh rugby and he will be sorely missed by supporters around the globe as well as his friends throughout the game and here at the WRU,” said Butcher.

“He proudly represented his country as a player, was a mainstay in press boxes around the world long after he retired from the game and has been prolific in the way in which he has served Welsh rugby in both the written and spoken word over decades.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to his family, who we also know well and cherish, and his close friends and colleagues at this incredibly difficult time.

“He was a unique individual on the game in Wales owes him a debt of gratitude for his contributions both on and off the pitch.”

The BBC director general Tim Davie also paid tribute to a “wonderful wordsmith” who voiced some of rugby’s most vital moments.

Additional reporting by PA