Whilst in Galway seeing friends it was also great catching up with Jarrad Butler, JB, a legend of a bloke who was involved with the full time squad at Reds for 2 years in 2012 and 2013. JB is one of the most down to earth, humble and selfless people, a truly great team man.
JB is now at Connacht, which is the smallest province in Ireland Rugby in terms of numbers, funds, crowds and pretty much everything. The real underdog, but a good club none the less.
He probably wasn’t going to get a lot of opportunities at the Reds and went to Brumbies and made the most of his opportunity, he had a good 4 years there.
After a few issues with the phones we managed to catch up for a coffee and brekky on game day. Having a coffee with him and we also see a few of the other Connacht boys there also enjoying their chilled out game day morning.
After we finish up brekky and go to pay, it turns out the coffees are free for the boys, of course they are. This is one of the little perks that comes with being a professional athlete at times. It might not seem much but when you’re a big coffee drinker it goes a long way and makes you feel good that you are receiving these perks when the majority of the population isn’t privy to these such things.
We then go for another coffee further in town but it’s just a little too noisy for us to do a recording for the podcast interview so we grab takeaway.
Before we start the interview we are just chatting and everything he is saying oh so familiar. JB talks about how he managed to come here, how it was a bit of luck, timing and having a connection. It brings back so many memories, I’ve been through it all before. The free coffees, the going well. The almost nothing on the table, almost going to sign somewhere else. It can be a crazy rollercoaster ride at times, with plenty of highs and lows, within months, weeks, days and single days.
But the big man has really fallen on his feet here in the end, the deal finally got over the line, a 3 year deal which means he’ll be eligible for Ireland after this time. Awesome, I’m ectstatic for him as I know the stress of uncertainty of not knowing where the next deal will be, if there even will be one and 3 years gives you stability, a rarity in this industry.
We punch out the podcast in the sun, a rare beautiful day in Galway and our enjoying the coffee and our lack of requirement for anything needing to get done that day, our freedom with our current lifestyles, although mine is now very different.
From all accounts I’ve been told JB fits in great and playing really well, he’s already racked up a few man of the matches and maybe they were getting more than they had hoped or expected for, they’ve got a real bargain. He tells me he loves it in Galway too, and after my brief stay and talking with friends, both Irish and non Irish a lot of them cant speak highly enough about the place.
We finish up the coffee and I tell him I’ll see him at game.
Get to the game and you can see he’s loved, absolutely adored, he’s become a bit of a figure, no Bundee Ahki, who’s the real big dog at Connacht, especially after they won their first ever title, but fan favourite no doubt.
JB has a great first half and the little stadium is absolutely jammed packed for the biggest local derby of the year against big brother Munster from up the road. I miss those moments, the really big games, where the crowd is electric and the intensity of the players and crowd goes to another level. I don’t miss rugby as such, but those occasions, that’s why I worked so hard to get to that level, it’s an unbelievable experience that unless you are in it, it’s hard to describe. He’s man of the match, the difference really, especially against a more fancied opposition backrow.
But as the game ticks down, with 4 or 5 minutes to go… an Injury. He can’t get up. He tries, finally gets into line, he’s a warrior. Gotta be to play 7. But he’s on 1 leg. End of the game and it’s not looking good.
I check him out after the game and he’s on crutches. Has scans the following day.
He’s now got a few people around him waiting patiently to grab a photo and an autograph. It’s now my turn to be taking photos. Ha it’s a strange feeling. I haven’t been in this situation too many times.
I don’t watch much rugby on the TV and I don’t watch much live rugby, just don’t enjoy it that much, although I definitely enjoyed that game.
Next day a message to Pete to inform him he needs surgery. Minimum 6 weeks. A huge blow for himself and the team. I’ve been there before, plenty of times actually. It’s frustrating and not good.
So many flashbacks and memories. Such a rollercoaster of emotions, all in the 1 day!
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