Jeff Butterfield

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Jeff Butterfield
Birth nameJeffrey Butterfield
Date of birth9 August 1929
Place of birthHeckmondwike[1]
Date of death30 April 2004 (aged 74 years 265 days)
Place of deathWicken, Northants
UniversityLoughborough University
Rugby union career
Position(s) Centre
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Loughborough Colleges
Cleckheaton RUFC

National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions

Jeffrey Butterfield (9 August 1929, Heckmondwike, Yorkshire – 30 April 2004, Wicken, Northamptonshire) was an England, British and Irish Lions, Yorkshire, Cleckheaton RUFC, Northampton and Barbarians Rugby player and businessman.

Education and teaching career[edit]

Butterfield was educated at Whitcliffe Mount Grammar School, Cleckheaton and Loughborough College, where he took a BSc. in Physical Education in 1951. He later took up a teaching post at Wellingborough Grammar School in Northamptonshire, after which he became a science master at Worksop College.

Rugby career[edit]

Butterfield began his senior rugby career with Northampton Saints and played for them 227 times [3] . In addition to his duties at Northampton he also played 54 times for Yorkshire and captained them in two County Championship finals, in 1953 and 1957.[4] .

He is considered to have been one of the most gifted centres to have played Rugby for England and was capped 28 times and captained the team four times.[5] He was first capped by England in 1953 against France; here he played with a fellow Northampton player Lew Cannell. Butterfield played for England for 6 years, including 28 successive matches – in his final season he was captain. Butterfield became England's most capped back, and on his watch, England won the Five Nations' Championship four times, the Triple Crown twice and a Grand Slam.

As well as playing for Northampton and England, Butterfield is celebrated for his play on the 1955 British Lions tour to South Africa where he scored tries in three of the four test matches.[5] He later toured with the Lions in New Zealand in 1959 but here he was plagued by an injury and was unable to play in any of the matches.[citation needed]

Butterfield was influenced as a player by the Bradford Northern Rugby League club whom he used to watch as a child.[citation needed] He used to watch the pre-war international outside half, Willie Davies.[citation needed] Of him, Butterfield said, "Willie always carried the ball in front of him with both hands. Though he always continued to run straight when he passed. I modelled my technique on his."[citation needed] One of the most memorable features of Butterfield's game was his near-perfect timing of a pass.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

After retiring from full-time rugby, Butterfield briefly worked the paint industry and later opened the Rugby Club in Hallam Street, London, which he and his wife, Barbara, ran for 25 years.[6]. Butterfield and his family also enjoyed skiing. His later years were dogged by ill health.

Butterfield was President of Milton Keynes Rugby Club from 1972 until his death in 2004 and also had a unique role in developing rugby union in the Cayman Islands.[7]

Butterfield married Barbara Kirton in 1956 and they had one son (Giles).


  1. ^ Jeff Butterfield Profile on
  2. ^ Philip Gaunt (1969). "Yorkshire Rugby Union - Centenary 1869-1969 (Page-28)". Chadwick Studios/Frederick Duffield & Sons Ltd Archived 6 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine. ISBN n/a
  3. ^ Northampton Saints Hall of Fame
  4. ^ Northampton Saints Hall of Fame
  5. ^ a b "England / Players & Officials/ Jeff Butterfield". Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  6. ^ The Daily Telegraph obituary
  7. ^ Cotton, Fran (Ed.) (1984) The Book of Rugby Disasters & Bizarre Records. Compiled by Chris Rhys. London. Century Publishing. ISBN 0-7126-0911-3