Eddie Butler: who was BBC commentator and ‘voice of rugby’ dead at 65, cause of death and tributes

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The former Wales and Pontypool RFC player has passed away at the age of 65 in Peru

The world of rugby is mourning the sudden passing of journalist and commentator Eddie Butler.

A former Wales international during the 1980s, the Pontypool RFC back row player also toured with the Barbarians and the British & Irish Lions during his career.

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For many he was best known as the BBC’s ‘voice of rugby’ for the past two decades, commentating on Six Nations Championship matches for the broadcaster - taking over as lead commentator from fellow commentary legend Bill McLaren in 2002.

Since his passing, tributes have been pouring in from across the sport...

Eddie Butler - cause of death as commentator passes away aged 65

Eddie Butler during his days as a player with the Welsh national team in the early 1980s Eddie Butler during his days as a player with the Welsh national team in the early 1980s
Eddie Butler during his days as a player with the Welsh national team in the early 1980s | Getty Images

Butler died in his sleep while on a walking trip in the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Prostate Cymru, Wales’ leading prostate health charity, shared the details via their Twitter account.

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The statement said: “The Prostate Cymru charity is devastated by the passing of its much loved ambassador Eddie Butler.

“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.

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“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 is survived by his Susan and six children.

Rugby world pays tribute to ‘the voice of rugby’

Several of Butler’s colleagues, friends and admirers have taken to social media to share their tributes.

Former England hooker Brian Moore, who commentated on matches alongside Butler, 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 have lost a very dear friend. Goodbye Edward.”

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Another former Wales star who shared the commentary box with Butler was Jonathan Davies, who wrote: “Totally devastated with the news about Eddie Lost a charming man and a great friend. My thought are with Sue and all the children.”

While many rugby fans of a slightly older generation consider Butler’s former colleague Bill McLaren as the “voice of rugby”, younger viewers have come to associate Butler’s commentary most with the game including popular Youtuber ‘Squidge Rugby’ who wrote: “To my generation, the voice of rugby. As beloved for his wit and his warmth as his ability to call a play. He will be so dearly, dearly missed.”

BBC colleague and rugby author Tom English tweeted: “Desperately sad. Eddie was a gentleman, a class act who achieved a huge amount in his life. Rest in peace big man.”

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