The Voice Of The Montage Eddie Butler Talks Calcutta Cup And Six Nations
When it comes to drama and the Six Nations there isn't anyone better at setting it up and getting the hairs and your arms than Eddie Butler, the voice of any worthwhile rugby montage. We spoke to the commentary legend about this weekend's fixtures.
You get the feeling that Eddie Butler was made for weekends like this one. His voice will likely dominate the story telling of Ireland vs Wales and Scotland vs England whether it's in commentary or in a pre match hype video.
Game week three in this year's tournament could be pretty seminal and these could be Ireland and England's biggest tests stopping the pair going into a final day showdown for the title and a Grand Slam.
Eddie certainly enjoyed the drama of England's game against his own country Wales last time out and the controversy of that Stef Evans disallowed try, "Well I mean there's no shortage of drama. We've had all the postmortem of the disallowed try for Wales, which is about as exciting as a Grand Slam campaign in terms of proving what we think about rugby in Wales, games against England in particular.
"With all the business of the disallowed try there's that little bit of evidence that Steff Evans may have knocked the ball on, the oscillating finger of Steff Evans- people have gone to war for less. It's that rare time of year that rugby fills in some of the bleak dark days, we should enjoy them whilst they last."
And the BBC commentator believes that it's not as easy as saying that we're destined for a St Patrick's Day showdown between England and Ireland to decide a Grand Slam winner, "I imagine Scotland will have a view on that. They put themselves back in the frame with that win against France.
"The good thing about Scotland is it doesn't seem to take them long to get back on track. You know, they obviously suffered for their performance in Wales but they immediately put themselves back in the frame. They didn't compromise, they decided to run around and played at a helter skelter pace, keep the ball on the field and keep the phases going for a long time. Which is a risk, they could have gone at it a little more cautiously, but they opted not to under Gregor Townsend. That will continue.
"I think Scotland England could be one of those crux games of the Six Nations. Similarly Ireland vs Wales. Wales have not been knocked out contention by losing that close encounter at Twickenham. You know I don't think you can discount Wales at all. Their record at Dublin is pretty good in the last 20 years and everything is still up for grabs."
Speaking of Scotland's approach, and that of Wales too, Butler believes that the all round style of play is improving in the Six Nations, and he's all for it, "We're always conditioned by the weather and it has to be deliberate in a way that we chose to play in February and March in the worst conditions when anything can happen even if you've got a roof over your head. So we're slightly conditioned by what mother nature throws at us.
"But if you look at the Wales have played, trying to break out and play with this all round game, it is improving. England are the second best team in the world, ranked two behind New Zealand, and they're doing it their way. They're formidable, there's no question about. And Ireland could be the strongest of them all.
"I'm not sure it's always helpful to compare the hemispheres but I do get the impression that the gulf is closing. Instead of trying to copy what happens in New Zealand and Australia, and in particular New Zealand, the Six Nations are trying to do it in their own way.
"There's a distinct Irish way of playing now. The idea has come from Joe Schmidt a New Zealander but the way the Irish are going through their drills still has a very Irish feel to it. And the Welsh way is utterly Welsh. And England are doing it very much their way, which isn't as easy on the eye but is absolutely formidable. When England are in full cry, you know it's going to take some team to stop them."
Scotland to have played an attacking style of rugby and that closing of the gulf between north and south was never more evident that Townsend's side's victory over Australia in the Autumn internationals.
Former Welsh number eight Butler thinks that the contrast between the two hemispheres right now means that the World Cup in Japan next year is the best chance for the likes of Scotland, Ireland and Wales to be successful, "Yeah it is [the best chance for Scotland, Wales and Ireland], it's different and just as the 6 Nations pulls everyone up and England have definitely pulled everyone along with them, it'll be interesting to see if New Zealand, who are so preeminent in all aspects of the game, not just on the playing side but the way their coaches think about the game, the shape of the players they need, their fitness regimes, NZ are just the great philosophers of rugby union.
"It'll be interesting to see if they can keep going and be so forward thinking when actually if everyone else in the Rugby Championship is struggling. South Africa have its troubles, Argentina haven't kicked on like everyone thought they would, Australia are struggling with money, the rugby structure and everything it faces by way of competition.
"It would be interesting to see by way of contrast if, as England have dragged everyone up, have the other three somehow dragged New Zealand down.There are real strains even in the great think tank of rugby."
For now tough thoughts will remain on who will win the Six Nations and, after much deliberation and a lot of umming and ahhing, Butler plumps for England, down to their home advantage on the last weekend.
Until then there's sure to be plenty of drama, and Eddie's sure to make it sound all the more dramatic, it's just his wonderful way.
You can catch all the drama of the Calcutta Cup on BBC One today, Saturday 24th February, coverage starts at 4pm, kick off 4.45pm.