Still write on form

An article I wrote as part of my final practical exams. A profile piece about Ex Rugby Captain, Eddie Butler.

Shying away from the camara, leaving The Observer, a tendency for laziness and a growing love for gardening. This could spell retirement for ex rugby captain Eddie Butler – but Eddie’s journalism is flourishing and he has no plans to stop any time soon.

“Seriously I am a very lazy person, I find it very easy to go and watch iPlayer at two o’clock in the afternoon, I don’t feel guilty about that at all; but I enjoy writing I really do.”

After 20 years of writing a weekly column in The Observer Sport, Eddie Butler has announced he is leaving the paper. But the writing game is far from over for the ex Welsh Rugby captain, who despite hanging up his boots 26 years ago, remains a prominent figure in the world of sports journalism and intends to keep it that way.

Although claiming to be somewhat of a lazy individual, Eddie is a passionate journalist, ready to embrace the freelance world. “I loved being a staff writer for The Observer. It was great because I was so lazy that freelancing was never quite my bag but here at the age of 53 I seem to be doing it again.” He is also having a ball as a commentator for the BBC, “Broadcasting journalism is a hoot in its own right, I wish I could look you in the eye and say it’s hard work!’ but it’s good fun.” he says.

Eddie crossed the media-sport boundary into the journalism world in 1984 when he realised his rugby career was dwindling. In addition to this he was becoming increasingly passionate about journalism. Eddie started working for the BBC which he enjoyed much more than he had first expected, “Instead of looking forward to the weekend as the great moment of release from some mundane job, I actually quite liked working for the BBC and Saturday had started to become a bit of a chore – so once you hit that point your sporting days are numbered.”

In addition to his impending rugby retirement, Eddie believed he had the makings of a good sports journalist, “In 1984 I was being criticised by a little hard core of journalists and I sort of was thinking, ‘well actually I think I could do this better than you,’ which sounds terribly arrogant, but it was certainly a driving motivation.” From here Eddie took up a full-time post at BBC sports and has since remained a prominent rugby journalist, partnering with commentators such as Bill Mclaren and ex-England hooker Brian Moore. His book, Tangled Mane: The Lions Tour to Australia, was published in 2002.

Eddie admits his new freelancing career hasn’t quite got going yet, “Commissions received – none!” he smiles, “But that’s by choice” he adds in. Eddie remains as a freelancer for the BBC in both Cardiff and London and he has plans to do a history series for BBC Wales Ryder Cup programme for BBC Wales.

Eddie has started to shy away from the glare of the cameras after years in the spotlight, both on and off the pitch, “I don’t want to appear in front of the camera anymore – this is the world of HD – every wart on an old man’s face can be seen from a hundred metres. I could do without that.” Instead of being filmed, Eddie would like to write more scripts for radio and television. “I like writing for television. I like this contraction, I like making what sprawls into something tight.”

But despite his love for journalism, there will never be a replacement for the sport he once played, “Nothing beats playing I have to say. Even in the unpaid days it was such hard work. You don’t really appreciate the fun to be had out of it.”  In the days when Eddie played for Wales, they never went on a major tour, as the club were very debt conscious whilst they paid off the old stadium. “It is such hard work that you don’t appreciate it at the time, but looking back they were great, great times and nothing ever beats it full stop.”

But the ex-player appears content and happy with this second career in journalism, and is clearly passionate about his job, “I don’t want to retire but I have no ambitions to do anything other than what I do now, I don’t want to go on a plumbing course. I like gardening and scripting and that could keep me going really.”


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