Freddie Burns has described his late horror show in Bath’s 22-20 Heineken Champions Cup defeat against Toulouse as ‘an ultimate low’.
Bath captain Rhys Priestland has backed a tearful Burns to bounce back, but also warned his team-mates there will be no more celebrations before tries are scored this season.
Burns missed a 74th-minute penalty from in front of the posts and then blew a try barely 60 seconds later after breaking clear and crossing the Toulouse line before losing control of the ball under pressure from Maxime Medard, who nudged Burns’ arm.
Bath’s Freddie Burns celebrated as he ran in to score a try on Saturday and even blew kisses
But he was embarrassed as he fumbled and didn’t score under pressure from Maxime Medard
Burns even blew a kiss as he appeared to enjoy an unopposed run-in, but it all went horribly wrong as he failed to touch down and Bath were left with an uphill struggle to qualify from a group that also includes Champions Cup holders Leinster.
Burns later tweeted: ‘Love this sport for the highs and the lows. Today was an ultimate low and a mistake I’ll learn from. I’ll continue to give my best as I always do. Lastly just apologies to the boys and the supporters for the mistake. I’ll bounce back… thanks for the support’
Priestland believes Bath’s early celebrations must be stamped out, with Burns’ blunder coming just six weeks after Bath full-back Tom Homer was guilty of not putting the ball down when over the line during a 17-10 Gallagher Premiership loss to Bristol.
‘We have got far bigger issues than him (Burns) dropping the ball over the line or missing that kick,’ Priestland said.
‘We should have been good enough to not have to rely on one try or a kick here and there.
‘It is probably something we need to speak about as a squad – celebrating before we score tries.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I am not pointing the figure at Freddie. He hasn’t cost us the game, we weren’t good enough.
‘But as a squad, I just can’t believe we celebrate before we put the ball down.
‘I honestly don’t know what boys think they are going to gain by doing it. For me that is not negotiable. We can’t do that again this season.
‘Freddie is a big character, and he is going to bounce back. I hope he comes into training next week with the swagger he always brings.’
Burns later took to Twitter to say sorry for his error which cost Bath a victory against Toulouse
Full-back Burns looked dejected and he stood head bowed after the final whistle on Saturday
Medard revealed that on Friday he had coffee with Burns, who left the pitch in tears, as he is friends with the Frenchman’s Toulouse colleague Maxime Mermoz.
Reflecting on the non-try incident, Medard said: ‘I was surprised. He had a lot of time to score, but he hesitated.
‘I targeted his arm because he only had the ball in one hand. You watch sevens, when the players are really cool, and it happens.’
Less than 24 hours after European title holders Leinster crushed Wasps 52-3 in Dublin, Toulouse clinched a crucial Pool One win at the Recreation Ground.
Centre Sofiane Guitoune scored two tries for Toulouse, while Medard also touched down and full-back Thomas Ramos kicked two conversions and a penalty.
Burns and centre Jamie Roberts scored first-half tries for Bath, but Wales international Roberts did not appear for the second period after being briefly knocked out following a Jerome Kaino tackle that saw the New Zealand World Cup winner sin-binned.
Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder said: ‘Freddie will be hurting, there is no doubt about that. I don’t need to state the obvious.
‘Freddie made an error, but that is very often where the greatest learning comes from.’
Reflecting on the Roberts incident, Blackadder continued: ‘We lose a player for the rest of the game, and they lose a player for 10 minutes.
‘It’s exactly the scenario why they have sanctions, to protect the player. It was disappointing to lose Jamie, because he was having such a brilliant game.’
Burns held his head in his hands after failing to score and win the match for the hosts
Bath supporters had also celebrated early as Burns ran over the try line and looked set to score