Jeff Butterfield

Jeffrey Butterfield Esq

England International who in the 1950s helped to set the template for midfield play

Jeffrey – Jeff – Butterfield was born in Heckmondwike,Yorkshire,in August 9th 1929 and educated at Cleckheaton Grammar School and Loughborough College, where he trained as PE Teacher. His National Service with Duke of Wellington’s Regiment interrupted his years as a student but his native county Yorkshire, recognized his ability and when he left college was added to the Staff at Wellingborough Grammar School, from where he joined Northampton RFC which was then the leading club in England.

Jeff’s debút for England was on February 28th 1953 at Twickenham v.France when he played alongside with established international Lew Cannell, and scored the first of his five tries for the English national side. His last game for England was on March 21st 1959 v.Scotland. He played 28 consecutive games for his country,16 were England victories and only 7 were defeats. Jeff was an integral member of the team which won the Five Nations Championships four times, two Triple Crowns and one Grand Slam, not to mention 5 Calcutta Cups. For the British Lions, Jeff played in 1955, on South Africa Tour, where he played in 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 a goal he ever scored.

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. Jeff 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 Australia, but a recurring thigh injury kept him out of the international series.

Early in the 1960s, Jeff and several colleagues came up with the notion for a ‘ Rugby Clubhouse ’ in the English capital – London – as a watering hole for the like-minded individuals. It came to fruition in Hallam Street and after only a year, Jeff took over the management of the Rugby Club of London and stayed for 25 years, assisted greatly by his wife Barbara. 1982 Jeff met with Paul Gleeson from New Zealand to discuss the possibilty of organizing the World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival for the first time in Europe (London 1985).

Jeff was very supportive but did point out in his quiet but firm way, that local “competitions” called Golden Oldies already existed in Europe and in England. Jeff saw the widsom of taking the concept worldwide and the rest is history. In the mid 90’s, Jeff made Dave McDonald of Aberdeen Strollers the Scottish Representative on his European Committee and Dave organised the 4th European Festival in Aberdeen in 1996. Over the next 20 years Jeff Butterfield continued to lead the growth of veteran rugby in Europe right up to his “retirement” in 2002 when he was honoured with Honorary Life President of EGOR. In 2002, at the 6th European Festival in Split, Dave was proposed as European President and there is now Oldies Rugby in 40 European Countries, with Festivals almost 12 months of the year, taking place from Russia to Israel !

Only two years later, a couple a days before the start of the 7th EGOR Festival, Jeff died from a heart attack on April 30th 2004, aged 74.

A great Rugby Man ……