Bath full-back Freddie Burns apologised after blowing a winning try in the last five minutes as his team lost 22-20 at home to Toulouse in the European Champions Cup on Saturday.
With just five minutes to play, Burns scythed through the defence and gave a cocky nod of the head and slap of his chest as he approached the tryline for what would likely have been the decisive score.
Trotting in towards the back of the posts, the 28-year-old five-time capped England back slowed as he went to ground the ball one-handed, only for the ever-lively Maxime Medard to pounce, tapping Burns’ forearm to cause the ball to spill and roll dead.
A tearful Burns collapsed to the ground, face buried in the pitch.
Five minutes to go…
Chance to win the game…
"Oh he's dropped it!"
A brutal moment for Bath star Freddie Burns 😣 pic.twitter.com/K7S578Rdwx
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) October 13, 2018
The bungled try attempt came shortly after Burns missed a penalty in front of the posts that would also have edged Bath back into the lead.
“Love this sport for the highs and the lows. Today was an ultimate low and a mistake I’ll learn from,” Burns tweeted.
“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.”
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 👍🏼
— Freddie Burns (@FreddieBurns) October 13, 2018
Two minutes after the botched his try, Bath’s director of rugby Todd Blackadder took the full-back off because he was “a little bit” mentally shot.
“It’s just an honest mistake, and he will never do it again,” Blackadder told BBC radio. “A really disappointing way to finish the game.”
“You just can’t (celebrate early) at any level. We did it against Bristol (when Tom Homer dropped the ball while crossing the line) and it’s just disappointing here in the Champions Cup. But it’s a genuine, honest mistake.”
Asked how Burns will pick himself up, Blackadder said: “It’s about what you do next. But Freddie is pretty tough and pretty resilient.”
Four-time European champions Toulouse made up for the disappointment of missing the competition last year by holding on for the win in a tough Pool 1 that also includes Leinster, who ran out 52-3 winners over Wasps on Friday.
“It’s the pool of death and we’ll take that win any day,” Toulouse’s No 8 Jerome Kaino told Channel 4. “We’re happy with this win away from home.”
Toulouse opened the scoring through France centre Maxime Mermoz before Bath responded with a brace of tries through a jinking Jamie Roberts and Burns. South African winger Cheslin Kolbe then produced a moment of side-stepping genius to leave two defenders flat-footed and feed Sofiane Guitoune, the France international centre handed a straight run in for the try.
Guitoune nabbed a second try as Toulouse benefited from their superior end-of-game management and, of course, Burns’ terrible error.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)