Jump to main content
Eddie Butler

Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away

Eddie Butler, former Wales captain and legendary rugby commentator, has died in his sleep while on a charity walk for prostate cancer in Peru.

Share this page:

Butler, 65, won 16 caps, during a career that also saw him become an integral part of the all-conquering Pontypool side in the 1970s and 80s. He also won three blues while studying modern languages at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.

A statement from Prostate Cymru, the charity that Butler was supporting, read: “Ed was the voice of Wales and we were honoured to have him as part of our charity. We will cherish the many memories we have of him.

“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.

“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.”

Butler went up to Cambridge at the age of 19 after leaving Monmouth school and his first significant game for the light blues was against Japan in 1976. His final game in university colours came playing for a past and present Cambridge side against Japan.

DFP – Leaderboard

While a student he acquired the unenviable record of being the first Cambridge man to be sent off, although his punishment didn’t stop him from playing against the touring New Zealanders a few weeks later.

He played for Wales B and went from the 1983 Wales B tour to Spain out to New Zealand to link up with the British & Irish Lions side as a replacement. On that tour he joined fellow Pontypool clubmates Graham Price, Bobby Windsor and Charlie Faulkner.

His first cap for Wales was against France in Cardiff in 1980. The last of 16 caps for Wales Cap No 784 was against Australia at the same venue in 1984. He captained his country on six occasions.

After finishing his playing career, he established himself as a much-loved rugby commentator and was considered the voice of rugby on the BBC. He enjoyed sparring with the likes of former England hooker Brian Moore and ex-Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies.

“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 Welsh Rugby Union chair Rob 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 and the game in Wales owes him a debt of gratitude for his contributions both on and off the pitch.”

Tributes have been pouring in for Butler, who was a hugely popular and admired member of the BBC’s sports commentary team.

Brian Moore wrote: “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’ve lost a very dear friend. Goodbye Edward.”

Fellow rugby commentator Andrew Cotter said he was “still in shock” after hearing the news. “Eddie worked alongside Bill McLaren as his co-commentator before Bill stepped aside. For the past 20 years Eddie was the man who called the big moments with great authority.

“Many of those who heard him may not have known he was a very fine player for Pontypool, Wales and the Lions. He was also very bright, had a sharp mind and wrote beautifully.

“He was a Welsh poet and one of the great orators of Welsh broadcasting.”

Butler also worked alongside Cotter at a number of Olympic Games. He also called the action at the Invictus Games.

In 2010 he was one of 15 former Welsh captains who took on the ‘Captain’s Climb’ to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in an attempt to raise £1m for the Velindre Cancer Centre’s ‘Stepping Stones’ appeal for lung cancer. He was once again raising money for charity on his final adventure in Peru.

As well as being a strong advocate for Welsh independence, he found the time to write two books of non-fiction and three detective novels.

The WRU sends heartfelt condolences to Eddie Butler’s wife, Sue, and to all his family and friends.


Partners and Suppliers

Principal Partners
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Official Broadcast Partners
BBC Cymru/Wales
Official Partners
The Indigo Group
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Papa Johns
Official Suppliers
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Rhino Rugby
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Princes Gate
Welsh rugby and broadcasting legend Eddie Butler passes away
Total Energies
Seat Unique
Castell Howell
Glamorgan Brewing
Ted Hopkins