Adam Hathaway, rugby correspondent of The People, feels a bit of sympathy for Freddie Burns, is thinking about Hannah, and her Monaco nightmare, and is getting the prayer mat out for the Vunipolas.
Freddie Burns has had better days than Saturday, notably when he came on as a replacement as England beat the All Blacks in 2012, but he could not have picked a worse day to have a stinker.
You have got to feel sorry for the bloke and the best thing he can do now is turn his phone off, ignore social media and take it on the chin in training at Bath next week.
Burns has dropped a proper one, and he knows it, but who hasn’t? Who hasn’t failed to turn off the glass washer in a boozer when you are last on shift or failed to lock the safe? It happens.
The boys will get stuck into him at Farleigh House, for sure, but once the initial impact of his shocker wears off, he will have a hefty bar tab for the next few weeks and that, should be that.
We’ve all been there. But this was massive, and we feel for Freddie.
Burns has played for Gloucester, Leicester and now Bath in the professional game but boy did he stuff up at the weekend for the club he started out with at the academy and supports.The 28-year-old used to serve chips in one of the fast food places at the Rec as a kid, leaving his post behind the counter with 20 minutes of the game left to watch his heroes from the stands, so his clanger hurts – big time.
Playing full-back at the weekend against Toulouse, he had what is euphemistically known as a bad day at the office at the Rec in his side’s 22-20 Champions Cup defeat to Toulouse.
We have all had bad days at the office, we have had all made howlers at work, but not many of them have been as public and beamed all over the world…..and this takes some beating as it was broadcast by BT Sport, Channel 4, NBC Sports in the States, all over Europe and in the Middle East. RugbySpy bets the last time you fouled up at work it did not get that sort of coverage. Chuck in Twitter and the rest of it and Burns’ shame is all over the shop.
And for good measure, there was no Premier League football at the weekend, because of the international break, and desk men on every paper were desperate for something to fill the void.
Us rugby hacks have had it over the years, ‘oh my god, there is no footy on – give us something to fill the big white space’ and Freddie filled it big-time. Burns got well and truly burned.
For those of you who did not see it, and there might be one or two, here’s the deal.
Bath were trailing 22-20 with the clock ticking down against the four-time champions, there were under seven minutes left, he had a penalty right in front of the sticks to potentially win the game. That one hit the post.
For older readers it was almost as simple as the conversion Don Fox missed in the 1968 rugby league Challenge Cup final, the ‘Watersplash final’, for Wakefield Trinity against Leeds.
Fox had some ready-made excuses, as that game was played on a swimming pool of a Wembley pitch, and he lost his footing as Wakefield lost the game. Fox was a great player, Burns is not quite in the same category but he is decent enough and a decent enough bloke. It was however a sitter and he blew it.
That was not the half it though Burns had another shot at redemption and the chance of cider for life in the bars of Bath around the Rec just 60 seconds later.
He was over the line for, surely, the match-winning try but starting blowing kisses at the local faithful before touching the ball down. And anyone who has played rugby at any level knows that is a big mistake because the gods of the sport will bite you on the bum.
And Burns got bitten right on the backside as the Toulouse wing Maxime Medard somehow got his knee to the ball as the Bath man was trying to grass it, with one hand. Cue delirium on social media.
But Burns held his hands up. Or at least his Tweeting finger when he said: “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.”
Fair play and hands up, but really Burns should have got his hands down first before showboating.
We’ve all cocked up on the rugby pitch, dropped a dolly catch on the cricket pitch and hooked one out of bounds off the first tee. Someone, who may be writing this column, thinned a bunker shot at Highgate Golf Club, from near the second green a few years ago, and it bounced off a very expensive car into the small of the back of a very elderly member on the practice green. RugbySpy thought we had killed the old boy. That did not go down well but at least it was not on NBC.
And Bath might not be on NBC for very long after Burns’ meltdown. They are in a pool with Leinster, Wasps, plus Toulouse, and away wins are as rare as hens’ teeth in Europe. Unless they pull a rabbit out of the hat their Champions Cup campaign is done and dusted.
At least Burns can draw solace from a few things that came up on social media. He is a good lad, and he knows he is in for a kicking, but Tim Cocker, of BT Sport fame, put out a message to ask if anyone had really been there like Burns. Tim asked if anyone else had really screwed up at work.
A lady called Hannah replied to Tim with this, ‘I once sent 50 staff to the Monaco GP on the wrong weekend…thought I’d got bargain flights #ChinUpFreddie’.
Now, that is a balls-up. Not missing a three-pointer in front of the posts or failing to touch down is a bit of an error, but that is a five-star, big, big-time six-figure mess.
So the next time you have a nightmare at work, have a think about Burns, and have a think about Hannah.
And keep your chin up, Freddie.
**
There have never been more influential brothers playing for England than the Vunipolas.
The Underwoods, Rory and Tony, were pretty handy, Ben and Tom Youngs can still do a bit and back in the day, the Pillmans did their share.
But there has been nothing like the Vunipolas and Eddie Jones must have been hanging his head in despair on Sunday afternoon.
Mako, a contender for number one, number one, in the world exited early on in Saracens’ win over Glasgow.
And Big Billy, a contender for number one, No.8, exited afterwards and, if they are anything other than short term injuries, that spells doom and gloom for England.
Mako is an all-court prop, he could probably play 12 at a push, and Billy is the only ball carrier in the world who makes yards from a standing start.
Back in the day, a national red-top newspaper printed a mat so that readers could get David Beckham’s foot fit ahead of the footy World Cup.
That was a metatarsal injury, let’s pray that these two are nothing sinister.
The RugbySpy mat is down. And available at the usual outlets.

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