British & Irish Lions
15 September 2022 17:00 Reading Time: 2 mins
Tributes have been paid to British & Irish Lion #601 and iconic broadcaster Eddie Butler, who has died aged 65.
Butler was called up to The British and Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 1983, replacing Jeff Squire, and made one appearance.
The No.8 played 16 times for Wales and captained them on six occasions, scoring two tries.
He was a legend at his club side Pontypool, captaining the team between 1982 and 1985, and, after retiring from rugby, he carved out a remarkable career in journalism, broadcasting and commentary.
Tributes have already started pouring in to honour a great of the game, with World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont calling Butler one of the finest commentators of his time.
Eddie Butler was a true commentary great – the recognisable voice of the sport to millions & unrivalled in his storytelling behind the mic. 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.
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) September 15, 2022
After beginning his journalism career with the Sunday Correspondent in 1988, Butler began writing for The Observer in 1991.
He joined BBC Wales in 1990, starting his commentary career alongside Bill McLaren before becoming the lead BBC rugby commentator.
His partnership with former Lions and England hooker Brian Moore received widespread acclaim and his commentary partner tweeted that he admired Butler as a broadcaster and as a man.
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. https://t.co/wtbEmQJhCm
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) September 15, 2022
Butler’s montage-accompanying prose was the backdrop not only to sporting events but to some of the biggest news stories of the last two decades.
The final one he made marked the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
He commentated on Olympic sports, as well as the Invictus Games, and also put his voice to montages for the BBC’s NFL highlights programmes. He also published three novels and two non-fiction books.
Two-time Tour captain and fellow broadcaster Sam Warburton said: “Stunned at the news and passing of Eddie Butler. Thoughts with his family.
“What an amazing contribution to rugby and broadcasting. A privilege to have played and co-commentated with his voice.”
Scott Quinnell, who toured with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, said: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news. Eddie was such a wonderful man. Always loved our chats especially over a pint. Love and thoughts to Sue and the family.”
Source – British & Irish Lions
Tommy Bowe has been announced as a trustee of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust.
He will join Gavin Hastings, Richard Hill and Sam Warburton as trustees. The Trust exists to connect with, nurture and support Lions players in need whilst also supporting a host of charities annually.
Tommy is #Lion752, having represented the Lions on the 2009 and 2013 tours to South Africa and Australia respectively. He enjoyed a lengthy and hugely successful international career with Ireland and played his club rugby with Ulster and Ospreys. He was nominated as a trustee by the IRFU to succeed Fergus Slattery.
“It’s such a privilege to be made a trustee of The British & Irish Lions Trust and I feel incredibly honoured,” said Bowe. “The Trust does so much good work and I really look forward to getting involved, helping Lions in need and working on various charity initiatives.”
British & Irish Lions MD Ben Calveley said: “People know the Lions best for what we do on the field, but what we do off the field is of equal importance.
“The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust does so much important work for those in need. Tommy is a wonderful addition to the Trust and as a trustee I have no doubt that he will help to drive forward this good work.”
Gavin Hastings, Chairman of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust said: “One of the key aims of The British & Irish Lions is to have an impact off the pitch, and we are really proud and pleased to continue supporting our Lions post retirement through The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust.
“Tommy is a great addition as a trustee – he will bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm and I know I speak for my fellow trustees when I say that we’re really looking forward to working with him. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fergus Slattery who has been great to work with on the Trust and I wish him all the best for the future.”
Source – British & Irish Lions
Former British & Irish Lions tourist Ken Kennedy has died aged 81.
Kennedy was part of the 1966 Tour of Australia and New Zealand, and the invincible 1974 Tour of South Africa.
The hooker amassed 45 caps for Ireland and was highly regarded for his world class scrummaging ability.
Kennedy was born in Rochester, England and studied medicine at Queen’s University in Belfast where he qualified to be a doctor.
Away from rugby, Kennedy continued to practice as a doctor in London while playing for London Irish.
Kennedy made his Test debut for Ireland in January 1965 against France at Lansdowne Road, with the game finishing a 3-3 draw.
The next year, the hooker was selected for the 1966 Tour, where he picked up four Test caps and scored a try in an 11-8 win over Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground.
Kennedy missed the 1968 Tour through injury but returned as part of the squad that returned unbeaten from South Africa in 1974.
The front rower also stepped in as unofficial medic on Tours thanks to his medical degree.
Kennedy’s final Ireland cap came in a 32-4 loss away in Wales in 1975, retiring at the time as the world’s most capped hooker.
Source – British & Irish Lions
London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.
O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017.
O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them.
“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.
“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us.
“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.
“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career.
“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.
“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family.
“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years.
“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then.
“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.
“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be.
“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”
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