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Jeff Butterfield

Two tours, four Tests, 1955-1959

Two tours, four Tests, 1955-1959

(1955: 4 Tests)

Jeff Butterfield had a crucial double influence on the attacking brilliance of the Lions of 1955: as the team's midfield tactician, he created many of the record number of tries they scored; as their physical training instructor, he made sure the side were fit enough to carry on scoring right up until the final Test.

The Northampton centre was the ideal link in the middle of the 1955 backline, where he reprised his England partnership with Phil Davies to devastating effect. The South Africans had not previously encountered so physically strong a midfield pairing and the duo laid waste to opposing defences wherever they played.

There was much more to Butterfield's game than sheer power, though, as he was both a deft handler of the ball and a shrewd reader of the play and its possibilities as they unfolded in front of him.

In the epic first Test, won by the Lions by a single point, Butterfield was at his brilliant best. He engineered the tourist's first try by snaring a pass from Davies as it flew behind his ear and freeing Cecil Pedlow in almost the same movement, before scoring their second himself with a great solo run.

By the end of the tour, Butterfield was the Lions' leading try scorer in the Tests, having scored further tries in the second and third internationals, the latter of which saw him carry three defenders over the line to give his team a victory that ensured they could not lose the series.

His other Test points came in more unlikely fashion when he opened the scoring in that third match with his first-ever drop goal, and with his weaker left foot to boot.

The first Englishman to score on his international debut for both his country and the Lions, Butterfield toured again in 1959, but was hampered by a thigh injury that eventually ruled him out of contention for a Test place. He again doubled up as fitness trainer, however, a role that had earned him special praise from manager Jack Siggins at the end of the 1955 tour.

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