(Reuters) – Bath’s Freddie Burns may have wished the Recreation Ground pitch could have swallowed him up after a nightmarish three minutes against Toulouse in a Champions Cup match that condemned his team to a 22-20 defeat on Saturday.
The hosts were trailing by two points in their opening European game of the season against the four-times champions with seven minutes to play when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts.
Burns stepped up and his simple kick hit the post, but worse was to come.
Semesa Rokoduguni’s break moments later led to Burns darting through the French side’s defence and running over the line.
Already smiling and celebrating, the 28-year-old was gently reaching down with the ball completely unaware that he had been tracked by Toulouse’s Maxime Medard who expertly knocked it from Burns’ hand before it hit the turf.
The fullback was taken off by his coach shortly afterwards and Burns posted an apology on Twitter.
“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,” he wrote.
“Lastly just apologies to the boys and the supporters for the mistake. I’ll bounce back… thanks for the support.”
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder told the BBC that he replaced Burns because he was “a little bit” mentally shot and his team mates tried to spread the blame.
“We’ve got far bigger issues than Freddie dropping the ball or missing that kick,” Bath captain Rhys Priestland said. “It’s something for us to talk about, celebrating before scoring tries. Freddie hasn’t cost us the game. We weren’t good enough.
“But, as a squad, I can’t believe we do celebrate before we put the ball down. It’s not the first time. I honestly don’t know what boys think they’re going to achieve by doing it. For me, that’s non-negotiable. We can’t do it again.”
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)