Claudius Butts: The Caribbean’s best winger

Though his name may not sound intimidating, Claudius Butts’ mere presence on the rugby field has been known to send a shiver down the spines of many a rugby football coach and their players throughout the region.

While fellow team-mate and close colleague, Theodore Henry, is viewed as a coach’s dream for his versatility, Butts can be considered an opposing coach’s nightmare.

In just seven years, this former national sprinter has managed to combine lightning quickness with determination and unmatched aggression.

The result is a deadly offensive weapon even against some of the best defence in the business.

Regional coaches will fear no more Butts’ skill as his extraordinary talent will be on their side since he has been appointed captain of the West Indies Rugby Team which will compete in the 2008 Sevens World Series in San Diego, California next month.

Butts is the first Guyanese to receive such an esteemed honour in several decades and follows in the footsteps of Guyana’s only other West Indies rugby captain John Lewis.

He attributes his third consecutive selection to the Rugby West Indies Team to the intense training over the past three years which ensured that he had a permanent position on the team – a prerequisite to gaining experience on the international circuit.

His goal – to further his career by playing in Europe sometime in the near future.

“One the greatest disappointments that I have suffered in my career was when I was listed as a reserve in 2006 for the West Indies Rugby Team, which I eventually made since one of the twelve players who was named for the squad got injured,” he recalled.

“I felt that I had deserved the selection from the beginning so, afterwards, I worked extremely hard so that my selection would no longer be questionable and I guess that determination to become better has made be gain the captaincy.”

Long before he dreamed of signing a contract to play in the European league, Butts tried his luck with other sports including basketball and track and field.

While he may not have made it at the international level, as he did in rugby, Butt’s was fast enough to sprint his way to a gold and silver medal at the 1998 Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) National Schools Track and Field Champion-ships in the 100 and 200m respectively.

While he was still at the Under-19 level, Henry, who had recently started playing, urged him to come along pointing out that his speed would be a tremendous asset in the sport.

Butts took the advice and within months became a member of the National U-19 team.

After showing immediate progress, Butts was also among the few elite selected to join the national senior team while still a junior.

As a member of the Yamaha Caribs team, he trained relentlessly while being advised by coach, Sherlock Solomon, and Henry, and earned a permanent position on the senior national squad.

Although he is more than capable of playing in the centre position, he found himself as a winger and has developed an uncanny ability for scoring tries.

In less than seven years he has collected many MVP awards and most tries awards in local tournaments and has participated in the 2004 and 2005 World Cup qualifiers.

Also on his impressive resume, is a try he scored in the 2007 IRB Sevens World Series in San Diego against Fiji, currently rated among the best, if not the best nation at the discipline.

Though that was certainly a career defining moment, he considers it second to Guyana’s first victory at the NAWIRA Sevens Champion-ship in 2006 where he scored three tries in Guyana’s blowout victory over Jamaica.

“The first time we won the NAWIRA championships was the best moment in my career and probably the most fulfilling feeling that I have ever experienced.

“That year, all the other teams looked at Guyana as a push over, as if we were the easiest team to beat and I think we made it even sweeter when we shocked everyone by going all the way and beating Jamaica in the finals which made us gain respect going into the next year.”

Over his seven-year career he has developed an addiction for the sport and said that he will continue to improve until he is at his best.

When he was going through tough moments early in his career, he always received encouragement from his late, great grandmother, Evelyn Gravesande, who always motivated him to keep going and his uncle Frank Lovell.

Butts says that he is still actively involved in other sports, not only because he wants to attain a superior fitness level but also to be able to function effectively as an offensive threat as well as uphold his responsibilities as captain of the West Indies Rugby Squad. Player profile Name: Claudius Butts Height: 189 cm Weight: 190lbs Position: Winger/Centre Caribbean’s Best Winger? Definitely!!

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