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Jeff Butterfield

Jeff Butterfield

Years: 1951-1963
Position: Centre
Appearances: 227
England caps: 28
British and Irish Lions tours: South Africa (1955), Australia/New Zealand (1959)

Jeff Butterfield is right at the very pinnacle of the pantheon of great Northampton Saints players. Four times a Lion, 28 times an England international (including four caps as captain) and 227 times a Saint, the majestic centre starred in every team for whom he turned out.

Yorkshireman Butterfield, born in Heckmondwike on 9th August 1929, joined Northampton in 1951. Like all centres he was judged not only by the number of tries he scored himself - three for the Lions, five for country, 67 for club - but in how he brought those playing around him into the game. And in this aspect he was right up there with the very best.

A sportsman from his schooldays at Cleckheaton College, where he was a star athlete and swimmer, he taught P.E. at Worksop College. His chosen career also came in handy on the pitch as Butterfield organised training sessions for both club and the 1955 Lions.

The Saints team of the early 1950s was truly legendary. In 1952/53, for instance, out of 41 matches only six were lost and a further six drawn. On the back of his form Butterfield was selected for England in the 1953 Five Nations and he made an immediate impact by scoring a debut try. This started a run of 28 consecutive international appearances until 1959, a campaign in which he led the national side. Butterfield also starred in England's 14-man 1958 victory over Australia, setting up Peter Jackson for the match-winning try.

In 1955 Butterfield had established himself in Lions folklore, scoring another debut try - becoming the only man to do so for Lions and country - he inspired the tourists to a one-point first test victory. Further tries followed in the second and third tests - the latter by carrying three Springboks over the line with him (Butterfield was not just about grace) - and he ended the series as the Lions' top try scorer. Butterfield also toured Australia and New Zealand in 1959, but hampered by a thigh injury he could not add to his tally of caps.

Butterfield's Northampton career continued until 1963 and Saints maintained record-breaking form until that final season. After retirement his name remained revered, especially in South Africa. He continued to be involved in the sport; setting up the European Golden Oldies Movement, and seven months after his death in 2004 Butterfield was inducted onto the Twickenham Wall of Fame.