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York City Knights sign former rugby union winger and Great Britain bobsledder

The York City Knights have announced the signing of Olly Butterworth from Sheffield Eagles.

Butterworth, a winger who signed for fellow Betfred Championship club Sheffield in July, boasts a sporting career spanning a range of disciplines, including being a former Great Britain Bobsleigh athlete.

A former rugby union player with Llanelli Scarlets and Cardiff Met University, Butterworth has also been a serving member of the Parachute Regiment since 2018 and has made appearances for the Army’s rugby league team, scoring a brace recently when they faced the RAF.

23-year-old Butterworth’s involvement with the Army began four years ago when, after joining the Parachute Regiment, he headed to Kenya for two months. Shortly after returning, he was picked up to represent the Army’s Bobsleigh team.

“It was pretty random,” he said of the beginning of his journey in the sport. “The coach of the parachute regiment team saw me and said I was what they were looking for.

“I sort of went along with and the next thing I knew, three months later, I was picked up by the GB team.”

Starting with the national team in early 2019, Butterworth then represented the country on the international stage before pursuing the sport he first loved.

“I went to World Cups and World Championships with them so I’ve done plenty of travelling with bobsleighing.

“Bobsleighing is incredible, it’s a great sport but rugby was always my first love. I’m 23, coming into a really good place athletically and this is where I want to go back to the first sport I loved and really go for it.

That sporting journey has now brought Butterworth to the Knights, a move that he admits excites him.

“I’m really happy to sign. It’s an exciting opportunity and as soon as I spoke with Fordy and saw the facilities, it shows what a professional setup it is and that’s something I want to be a part of.

“I’ve been in multimillion-pound complexes for the last five years and these are right up there. They’re world-class facilities and world-class facilities produce world-class teams.”

A driven individual, Butterworth further highlighted his desire to improve as an athlete and rugby league player.

“It’s all about development now for me. I’m six months into the sport so it’s a case of chipping away at those rough edges and developing as a player.

“I’m quite self-motivated and I’ve got my own reasons for doing things. I set myself short, mid and long term goals and go step by step towards ticking them off.

After being released by the Army to fully focus on his rugby career, Huddersfield native Butterworth will soon be moving to York to dedicate himself to the sport.

“They’ve released me full time. In a sport like Rugby League, you need to be training full time and they give you that time. They release you to go to pursue what you want to do. It’s a really privileged position to be in, to have that support and backing.

“I’ll be moving over to York in the next month or two and I’m really lucky to have the support of the Army.”

Shedding further light on the situation with the Army and whether there’s an obligation to return in the future, Butterworth said: “It depends on what’s happening with your sporting and military career, really. It’s a case of just balancing them both out.

“You don’t want to do ten or fifteen years of sport and then come back to soldiering and you’re in the same position you were when you were an eighteen-year-old, so it’s just balancing it out with courses and refresher courses when you need them.”

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