More than a few of us will have been preoccupied with thoughts of death in recent days, but while I grieve for Her Majesty the Queen, the shock news of the death of Eddie Butler is what I really found  overwhelming. 

Perhaps it’s because we were close in age terms that I found Eddie’s death last week at 65 so shocking. 

I was just about coming to terms with it when I started watching the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s funeral and there was Eddie’s voice narrating a pre-recorded piece of archive film about Westminster Abbey. That’s when I blubbed and I am not afraid to admit it. 

It was that distinctive voice of his which made his name as a broadcaster but before he really hit his stride working alongside the likes of Bill McLaren and forming a double act with England hooker Brian Moore, Eddie was a first-class journalist who wrote about rugby the way Hugh McIlvanney wrote about boxing and football – and I have no higher compliment to pay.

Almost all the tributes, especially on the BBC, neglected to mention that Eddie Butler had become a strong supporter of independence for Wales and I vividly remember discussing the subject with him as far back as 2012 when the Scottish independence referendum had just been announced. Life for Eddie was about more than rugby, and that is why his death on a walk for charity in Peru is so tragic – he still had so much to give to our sport and to Wales and the world.

Eddie Butler truly was a giant of a man and I hope something will be done in Wales and elsewhere to recognise his great contribution to rugby union and so much else

Back to normality – when I previewed the URC season last week, I stressed how important it was for Glasgow Warriors to hit the ground running and even though they had serious injury problems I thought they would still have enough firepower to beat Benetton in Treviso.

Mea culpa, I wrote: “The Warriors will have much tougher matches, especially in October, but Glasgow’s all-round play should be enough to overcome the Italians and set them up for the season ahead.”

I could not have been more wrong if I had tried. The Warriors turned out to be wimps and were well beaten in the end. To lose to the Italians who also gained a bonus point was bad enough but it was the manner of defeat that stuck in the craw – Glasgow just weren’t at the races for a lot of the game, and failed to convert pressure into points when they had the ascendancy, which was not very often.

At the weekend, Celtic FC were stunned by St Mirren and duly lost their unbeaten record, but at least manager Ange Postecoglou immediately took responsibility and admitted he had made a mistake with his team selection. 

I have to say that Franco Smith made the same selection mistake, for which he has neither admitted responsibility nor apologised. The proof came in the second half when the substitutes gave Glasgow some hope of a recovery, notably Zander Fagerson with his try.

If only Sebastian Cancelliere had been able to ground his kick ahead a few minutes later, Warriors might have been able to turn things around, but in truth Benetton were far enough ahead by that point and Glasgow couldn’t play catch-up rugby. How Scottish hearts must have been sickened to see a former Scotland international in the shape of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne come on to replace skipper Dewaldt Devenage and play a major part in Benetton’s control of the game late on.   

Smith said he is not a magician and that the game will help him to get to know the players, and yes, Glasgow had no pre-season friendlies worthy of the name, but this was still an embarrassing reverse and has reaffirmed my view that we might not get to see the best of Glasgow Warriors until deep into the season. They are at home to Cardiff on Friday and maybe the Scotstoun crowd will work the oracle.  

As for Edinburgh Rugby, they left a sluggish start well behind and eventually ran out easy winners over a reshuffled Dragons. Darcy Graham’s second try was pure rugby genius and while I was quite impressed by Charlie Savala at No.10, Edinburgh moved up a gear when Blair Kinghorn came on to replace him with half an hour to go.

Savala is Scotland-qualified as his father hails from Ayr, and head coach Mike Blair has confidence in all his stand-offs – you can never half enough versatile players.
Dragons did put up a fight at times, but Edinburgh’s attacking play, especially in the second half, was a joy to watch, especially the twinkle toes of Graham.

They must now travel to South Africa to play the Bulls, and while I am not hopeful, I wouldn’t be surprised if Edinburgh pulled off a shock result. We can but hope.