Eddie Butler ‘lyricism and humanity’ praised as tributes paid following death

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Former Wales captain and rugby commentator Eddie Butler has died aged 65 (PA)
Former Wales captain and rugby commentator Eddie Butler has died aged 65 (PA)

Eddie Butler’s broadcasting colleagues led the tributes following the former Wales rugby captain’s death aged 65.

BBC stalwart Butler died in his sleep on Thursday, during a charity trek in Peru.

Jonathan Davies and Brian Moore, who regularly sat alongside Butler in the commentary box, were among the first to pay their respects.

Former Wales playmaker Davies tweeted: “Totally devastated with the news about Eddie.

“Lost a charming man and a great friend. My thoughts are with Sue and all the children.”

Butler starred in Pontypool’s back-row in the 1970s and captained the side between 1982 and 1985.

His Test debut came in January 1980 when Wales defeated France 18-9 in the Five Nations. He retired from international rugby in 1985 aged 27.

After working as a teacher in Cheltenham for three years, Butler joined Radio Wales as a press and publicity officer in 1984.

He returned to BBC Wales in 1990 after launching a newspaper journalism career with the Sunday Correspondent, followed by stints with the Observer and the Guardian.

The accomplished broadcaster’s poetic poise and lilt lent itself in later years to colourful voice-over pieces, often delivered on Olympics duty.

Moore lamented the loss of an “iconic” voice in sports broadcasting and a “very dear friend”.

“Ed, I’m sorry I never told you how much I admired you as a broadcaster and as a man,” he tweeted. “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.”

Television presenter Gabby Logan, who fronts the BBC’s Six Nations coverage, added: “Eddie was a wonderful broadcaster, the kindest man and such great company.

“Many of us who worked with him are heartbroken.”

Tributes were also paid by Wales’ politicians, with First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeting: “Extremely sad to hear of Eddie’s passing.

“Eddie was an incredible player and a supremely talented broadcaster. Wales will miss him terribly.”

Butler had, in recent years, been a vocal supporter of Welsh independence, addressing crowds at a march in Merthyr Tydfil in 2019.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price praised Butler’s “lyricism and humanity” and said people would be marching for the former British and Irish Lion at a forthcoming independence rally in Cardiff.

“Eddie Butler was the most special man – a voice whose lyricism and humanity resonated across the nation, the generations, the world,” tweeted Price.

“We have lost one of the greats. Thinking of Eddie’s family and the many others who loved him. Come October 1 Eddie Mawr (Big Eddie) we’ll march for you.”

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton paid tribute to Butler’s “amazing contribution” to sport and journalism.

“Stunned at the news and passing of Eddie Butler,” said Warburton. “Thoughts with his family. What an amazing contribution to rugby and broadcasting.

“A privilege to have played and co-commentated with his voice. RIP Eddie.”

World Rugby chairman and Grand Slam-winning England captain Sir Bill Beaumont hailed Butler’s peerless commentary brilliance.

“Eddie Butler was a true commentary great – the recognisable voice of the sport to millions and unrivalled in his storytelling behind the mic,” Beaumont tweeted.

“Captain of Wales and a superb player, he was also a true gentleman. I am deeply shocked. My thoughts are with his family and BBC colleagues.”