JEFF BUTTERFIELD Home
|Ivor Nicholas||Don White||Johnny Hyde||Geoff Butterfield||Tony Sparrow||OGs Rugby|
|Rugby at Bedford||Under 15 Rugby 1951|
|Under 13XV 1960-61||First XV 1960-61|
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Daily Telegraph Obituary
Comment from a WGS old boy
Times Obituary 07/05/2004 immediately below:
Good centres always come in pairs, it is said in rugby union circles. Thus in England the partnerships of Will Carling and Jeremy Guscott, and before them David Duckham and John Spencer, evoke special memories. But the pairing of Jeff Butterfield and Phil Davies in the mid-1950s stands comparison, with Butterfield, the senior partner, providing a template for midfield play.
Had Butterfield been born 40 years later, he might have become the archetypal professional. So many of his attitudes were those of the present day, towards fitness and the organisation of the game which won him a place on the coaching advisory panel established by the Rugby Football Union in the early 1960s. Not that he had a great deal of time for many of the attributes of professional rugby and he resisted the many offers that came his way to play rugby league.
But his individual skills and consistency made him one of England’s greatest players. From the moment he made his debut for England, against France in February 1953, until he stood down from international rugby in 1959, he made 28 consecutive appearances in a period when the inconsistency of the England selectors was a byword. During that period, England won the Five Nations Championship on three occasions, including the 1957 grand slam, and Butterfield made two tours with the British Isles.
“He was a superb passer of the ball, a joy to play with,” Don White, who played with Butterfield at Northampton and subsequently became England’s first coach, said. “He had a wonderful ability to sum up a situation and decide what to do, and wings loved playing outside him."
Jeffrey Butterfield was born in Heckmondwike and educated at Cleckheaton Grammar School and Loughborough College, where he trained as a physical education teacher. His National Service with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment interrupted his years as a student but his native county, Yorkshire, recognised his ability and when he left college to work at Wellingborough Grammar School, he joined Northampton which was then the leading club in England.
He played alongside an established international in Lew Cannell, who was his partner on his international debut at Twickenham when Butterfield scored the first of five tries for England. Davies, the strong-running Harlequins centre, made his debut in the next match, against Scotland, though it was not until 1955 that the partnership reached its apogee.
The pair were chosen to tour South Africa with the Lions that summer in a series that was shared 2-2 at a time when the Springboks were unofficial world champions. Butterfield, as a PE specialist, looked after the physical preparation of the touring side - which earned him particular mention in the end-of-tour report by the manager, Jack Siggins -and played in all four internationals, scoring tries in three of them and also dropping a vital goal in the third international in Pretoria which the Lions won 9-6.
It was the only such goal he ever scored - he was not a great kicker of the ball - but more significant was the fact that he and Davies were part of a back line which won the admiration of all South Africans. With Dick Jeeps and Cliff Morgan at half back and the teen age Tony O’Reilly on the wing, it proved to be a wonderful attacking force and there was general mystification when Davies was dropped for the final international, O’Reilly moving to the centre, and the Lions lost.
In 1957 and 1958, England played nine internationals and were unbeaten in all of them, including the victory over Australia much of which was played with only 14 men after an injury to Phil Horrocks-Taylor. Butterfield had the mental strength and physical qualities to hold the back line together and proved a tower of strength throughout the two years. In 1959 he was rewarded with the captaincy in all four matches and was picked for the Lions tour to Australasia but a recurring thigh injury kept him out of the international series.
An arthritic hip - he subsequently had four hip replacements - did not stop him playing club rugby into the early 1960s and, after a period at Worksop College, he left teaching to work first for a paint company, then a property company in London. During that period he and several colleagues came up with the notion for a rugby club in the capital, run along similar lines to the Cricketers Club, as a watering hole for like-minded individuals.
It came to fruition in Hallam Street and, after only a year, Butterfield took over the management and stayed for 25 years, assisted greatly by his wife, Barbara. She did much of the buying for the catering department while Butterfield, so well known as a sporting name, proved an apt host, adorning the walls with pictures of some of rugby’s finest moments- not excluding one or two of his own. At the same time he became involved in the burgeoning coaching movement in England, which many at the RFU distrusted. He formed, with two Welshmen, Ray Williams and Hywel Griffiths, a Scot, Bob MacEwen, an Irishman, Mark Sugden, and another Englishman, Ian Beer, an advisory panel designed to improve the quality of play throughout the country. His forthright views could also be heard at the Rugby Club - that players should run straight, that they should look to beat an opponent with skill rather than through the crash-ball tactics which became favoured during the 1970s.
Little more than a month ago Butterfield, Williams - who went on to become Wales’s first national coaching organiser - and MacEwen enjoyed a reunion. Butterfield sold his interest in the Rugby Club seven years ago, at much the same time as a heart bypass operation, and retired to Buckinghamshire where he continued to enjoy golf and swimming. He leaves Barbara, his wife, and one son.
Jeff Butterfield, rugby player and businessman, was born on August 9, 1929. He died from a heart attack on April 30, 2004, aged 74.
PS from Richard Adkins. (WGS 1950ish)
(1) Jeff, a hard act to follow, was superseded by John Hyde.
(2) About 1980 I met Jeff's son, Giles at Cranfield. Giles was then a motor racing driver based at
Silverstone and came to Cranfield hoping that we could improve his F3 car.
(3) Jeff was a friend of Geoff Cooksey who taught English etc at WGS in the mid 50's. Geoff later went on
to set up the Stantonbury Campus School in Milton Keynes (probably the largest Comprehensive in the
UK) and Jeff B. often visited to encourage rugby at the school - my kids attended Stantonbury Campus.
Jeff Butterfield-Obituary (From the Daily Telegraph)
Jeff Butterfield, who has died aged 74, was a peerless centre-threequarter for England in 28 successive internationals from 1953 to 1959 and captain in his final season; with the mercurial Cliff Morgan and the teenage prodigy Tony O'Reilly, he was a star of the historic British Lions tour to South Africa in 1955. In the first Test he made one memorable try and scored another in the first post-war defeat of the Springboks, by 23 points to 22, at Ellis Park, Johannesburg; it has been described as "without question one of the greatest Test matches ever played anywhere in the world in any era".
Butterfield, nicknamed "Buttercup" by Morgan, collected a loose pass from behind his back, surprised the defence with a dazzling outside break, drew the full-back and put in the winger, Irishman Cecil Padlow, for a try. He then outwitted the defence again with a sudden change of direction and scored himself by the posts. A contemporary said of Butterfield last week: "He was a master of all the arts of centre play. He had a marvellous dummy, swerve, sidestep, terrific acceleration, and he could time and deliver a pass better than almost anyone in the history of the game." The one skill he lacked was kicking, which made it all the more surprising that he should drop a goal - the only one in his entire career, and with his weaker left foot - in the next Test match in South Africa. He played a heroic role in England's 14-man victory over Australia in 1958, delivering the pass that sent Peter Jackson en route to the dramatic last-minute try that won the game. Butterfield was chosen again for the Lions on their tour of New Zealand in 1959, but this turned out to be his swansong, as he developed an arthritic thigh injury that ended his career. The injury was to plague him in later life, when he had several hip-replacement operations. Most serious judges would include Butterfield in any "best ever" English team since the war; and many would rate him, alongside Ireland's Mike Gibson, as perhaps the best centre in the British Isles over the past half-century.
Butterfield was blessed with two great centre partners in L B Cannell and W P C Davies, and each played two matches with him in England's all-conquering Grand Slam season of 1957. A modest man who wore his fame lightly, Butterfield lived and breathed rugby football throughout his life, passing on forthright technical comments freely to later generations of players at the Rugby Club in Hallam Street, London, which he and his wife, Barbara, ran for 25 years from the early 1970s. It was in this place, surrounded by rugby talk and famous action pictures from the past, that Butterfield was truly in his element. It would be hard to exaggerate the goodwill he and his wife created for English rugby through the generous hospitality they showed to visiting players, officials and fans.
Jeffrey Butterfield was born on August 9 1929 at Heckmondwike in Yorkshire. He was educated at Cleckheaton Grammar School and Loughborough College, where he qualified as a physical education instructor. After National Service in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, he became a teacher at Wellingborough Grammar School. Word of his talent reached Northampton, one of the leading clubs in the country. He was to spend his whole playing career at Franklin's Gardens, even though he later went to teach PE at Worksop College. He also played 54 times for Yorkshire and captained the county from 1951 to 1958. Butterfield's knowledge of PE gave him an advantage in rugby's amateur days, when coaching was rudimentary and seen by the Rugby Football Union as ungentlemanly and faintly unsporting. It seems incredible in these days of huge specialist backroom staff that the England teams of the 1950s and early 1960s came together as a bunch of scratch players with hardly any game plan or technical support. They even had to pay for a replacement shirt if theirs was damaged or exchanged at the end of the game.
As a player, and even more as a selector after he retired, Butterfield quietly challenged this amateur ethos, leading squad fitness sessions, teaching the basics of running and passing, and using diagrams to illustrate moves on the field. In his dedication and attention to detail, he was a professional long before his time. Finally, in the mid-1960s, the RFU was persuaded to invest in a loose-leafed coaching manual. Twickenham insisted that this be prepared by an international group to obviate any charge that England might be seeking an unfair advantage. Ian Beer, later Head Master of Harrow, was put in charge, and the group included Butterfield, Ray Williams, the Welsh lock, Bob MacEwan, the Scottish hooker, and Mark Sugden, a scrum-half who first played for Ireland in 1925. Butterfield prepared the section on back play, Pamphlet V, which became a classic coaching tool and was taken on the successful Lions tours of 1971 and 1974. He was sceptical of much modern play, especially the spin or bullet pass, saying that it forced the fly-half and centres to move crabwise instead of running straight. "The ball", he once said, "should be caressed, not hurled around like a weapon." Above all, he believed in the value of the quick heel and swift and accurate passing.
Butterfield later gave up teaching to work, first for a paint firm and then a property company. But he found his life's real culmination with the Rugby Club, which he gave up seven years ago at the time of a serious heart by-pass operation. He retired to Buckinghamshire, and died there of a heart attack in his garden on April 30. He is survived by his wife and son.
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