Cast your mind back to the early noughties. The world had let out a collective sigh of relief at having survived Y2K, and people across the globe celebrated the dawn of a new century by downloading more porn and sharing cat gifs.
It was a time of new beginnings, when shows like ‘My Two Dads‘ were considered to be pushing at the boundaries. When rock bands could have names like ‘Hootie and the Blowfish‘…and still be taken seriously.
It was around this time that Butch James arrived on the rugby playing scene.
Granted, there was not much subtlety about a player like Butch. He did exactly what it said on the tin….butch things, man things.
But whatever agility and grace BJ lacked as player, he made up for in spades with his uncompromising and (often) illegal style of play, including his trademark ‘clothesline’ tackling style. When it came to tackling, BJ didn’t just throw caution to the wind….he threw a swinging arm too, and made that wind his bitch.
BJ was a player that the South African rugby-watching public loved to hate. You knew it was just a matter of time before he poleaxed someone…anyone, and got sent off the pitch, with the look of a sulky child. Like a car accident waiting to happen, you just couldn’t take your eyes off him.
So where is our Butch now?
Some say he accidentally clotheslined himself to death in his sleep. Whereas others maintain that he launched (with just a hint of irony) his own fashion brand and line of clothes – called ‘BJs – for real men‘.
I say, who cares. I want to remember Butch for the man he was. The man I will never be.