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Who was rugby commentator Eddie Butler? All you need to know about former Wales captain

RUGBY fans might notice a familiar voice has disappeared from the airwaves.

The tones of Eddie Butler have reverberated around living rooms around the UK and worldwide for the past 25 years.

Eddie Butler captained Wales six times during his rugby career

But that will no longer be the case, following the death of the incredibly popular commentator and former Wales rugby captain.

Tributes have been paid by the rugby and media fraternities, following Butler’s shock death at the age of 65.

Who was Eddie Butler?

Eddie Butler was born in Newport, South Wales – and attended Monmouth School for Boys as a youngster.

After showing promise academically and as a rugby player, he won a place at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he read French and Spanish.

At university, he played No8 and earned his Blues in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Butler played for Wales 16 times, six times as skipper, between 1980 and 1984, winning a place on the Lions tour in 1983.

At club level he played for Pontypool RFC and retired from rugby in 1985, while teaching at Cheltenham College and later joined BBC Radio Wales as a press and publicity officer.

After retiring he tried his hand at some business ventures and got into journalism, where he wrote at the Sunday Correspondent and later the Observer, where he started in 1991 and later the Guardian.

He joined the BBC as a commentator later and eventually succeeded rugby comms icon Bill McLaren as the lead commentator on rugby union.

His narration of Six Nations and autumn internationals fixtures have become a staple of any rugby fan’s diet – and his rise in commentary coincided with a golden period for Welsh rugby between 2005 and 2019, where they won four Grand Slams.

Butler’s partnership with former England front row Brian Moore and Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies became iconic and produced some dramatic commentary moments.

Also, his pronunciation of French rugby players’ names in a Welsh accent brought unexpected colour and fun to the airwaves – and he was simply an outstanding wordsmith.

Butler won plaudits for his narration of BBC Sport montages, especially during the 2012 London Olympics, where he voiced an hour-long recap.

His last major piece of work before his death was to voice over a montage of Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee.

How did Eddie Butler die?

Butler sadly died in his sleep at the age of 65 while on a charity hike in Peru, near Cusco in the Andes.

The keen charity advocate was walking with fundraisers for Prostate Cymru – and the traveling party included his daughter Nell.

Jonathan Davies told BBC Radio Wales after his death: “I’ve worked with Eddie for 25 years. Eddie was a presenter, a pundit, a genius broadcaster. He could turn his hand to everything. He was such a brilliant guy.

“He always had time for everybody. I just enjoyed working with him. It’s very difficult to put into words how good he was and how devastated everyone is. I can’t get my head around it.

“It was a joy to go into work. He was so eloquent. He had his own unique style. No one told him what to do or how to do it.

“He just had that Midas touch. He was a gentle, charming man. Very well educated, beautifully spoken.”

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