Butch calls time on test career

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Lions, Original Content, Sharks, Springboks on 17 Apr 2012 at 07:46
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , ,

Maritzburg College’s finest – former Shark and World Cup Winner Andrew David James – has opted to retire from test rugby at the age of 33, according to a press release from SARU.

James burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced youngster just around the turn of the century, winning rave reviews and scathing criticism in equal parts for the robust style of play that helped the Sharks reach the Super 12 final in 2000, but also copped him a fair few cards along the way. James quickly developed a reputation as somewhat of a reckless tackler and this penchant for no-arm hits, coupled with a series of debilitating knee injuries, restricted his prospects at national level, after playing 9 tests under Rudolf Straeuli between 2001 and 2002.

Jake White, though, threw James the proverbial lifeline and he went on to establish himself as first-choice flyhalf during White’s reign, a trend which continued to an extent under Peter de Villiers as well. While his knees ever remained a source of concern, James nonetheless managed to keep them going long enough to earn a total of 42 caps, with the 37 earned at flyhalf making him the most-capped ever in that position. He last played for the Boks during last year’s World Cup, coming on as a replacement against Wales in the opening match.

“I’ve had a great career playing for South Africa, the Sharks, Bath and the MTN Lions, but I’m not getting any younger and I knew this was the right decision to make, even though it was very difficult,” said James.

“I think I’ve got one or two more years of rugby left in me and all I want to concentrate on at this stage is to give nothing less than 100% on the field and enjoy my game. I’ve been fortunate to have a long career playing at the top level and I’ll look back at my time with the Springboks with nothing but fondness.”

Cheers and all the best, Butchie! You’ll certainly be missed and your efforts on behalf of the Boks will not soon be forgotten.


  • One of the more skillful flyhalves SA produced. Loved his ‘no look’ passes. Together with Trevor Halstead, they burst on the scene in 2000 and smited everyone. It’s such a pity he had those wobbly knees and a bit of a reckless approach on the field. James always had immense talent but soon developed a penchant for ‘crabbing’, running sideways and expecting people to play off him. I’ve always believed that flyhalves need to be specifically coached by backline coaches, as their general play always seems to regress at higher level.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.04.12 08:44:30 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • @CapeShark (Comment 1) : It never ceased to amaze me how Butch and Trevor did the same scissor movement in every game, and yet, because of their understanding and timing of the pass still found space and breached the advantage line with it…

    Butch was, in my opinion, *the* unsung hero of our 2007 World Cup campaign.

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.04.12 09:08:09 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • It is a pity Butch couldn’t have retired on a high. It is sad he had to end his career on a jump before he gets pushed note. I hope his knees hold out so he can finish his domestic career on a high.

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.04.12 09:29:42 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Competition Winner
  • Legend of Bok rugby,you will rarely find a more physical flyhalf,congratz on a superb career Butch

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.04.12 10:18:15 by Ludz Reply

  • @lostfish (Comment 3) : This!

    Best of luck Butch, always enjoyed watching you play!

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.04.12 10:34:52 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • i wouldn’t use the word “legend” & butch in the same sentence! thanks butch for your contribution to Bok rugby, we were in a spot of bother in 2006 with jaco playing kak and you filled that void manfully.

    cheers butcher.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.04.12 10:46:12 by Megatron Reply

  • All the best – heart and soul kind of guy, and one of the few highlights in the Putt era.

    Remember when he used to be known as Butch “Venus de Milo” James? 😆

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.04.12 11:29:41 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Its a pity that the majority of South Africans didn’t get to see Butch play post world cup. I was fortunate enough in my last couple of yrs in the UK to witness it, and he was unbelievable. Big hits, clever passes, probing kicks, very incisive flyhalf play. It got to the point in 2009ish where Bath couldn’t win without him, and when he did play they won by 30pts. And I don’t buy this nonsense that the std is lower, this was Heineken Cup. The Lions coaches were very worried about facing him based on his form, and they breathed a sigh of relief when he was injured for sure. All the best Butch, we’ll never know what may have happened if you’d not missed that conversion at ABSA stadium ( screw the wind!) and then retained the no 10 jersey.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.04.12 12:25:30 by neilster Reply


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