TV View: Burns Bath gaffe leaves everyone bamboozled

O’Gara and Jennings have little sympathy for outhalf as O’Callaghan dons red-tinted specs

Freddie Burns reacts after his mistake against Toulouse. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Freddie Burns reacts after his mistake against Toulouse. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Leo Cullen used a great word the other night in his interview ahead of Leinster’s rout of Wasps. When he was quizzed about his side’s apparent willingness to concede possession and territory to the opposition, a perplexed Cullen dropped his guard.

“You’ve bamboozled me with that,” he admitted.

Bamboozled was indeed how most viewers would have felt with the feast of rugby on the old googlebox over the weekend, starting over with Leinster’s runaway win, but nothing came anywhere close to the bamboozlement that came in the closing stages of the Bath-Toulouse match when Freddie Burns was the villain of a macabre drama which caused a stunned silence to descend on the old ground.

You know what they say about where to find sympathy in the dictionary - well, those in the Virgin Media One studio were having none of it, with the blame fairly and squarely laid on the shoulders of Burns for his showboating antics when all he had to do was touch the ball on the ground rather that blowing kisses to the crowd, before unceremoniously having his pocket picked by Toulouse’s Maxime Médard.

Here’s a timeline.

The prequel.

With 73 minutes 29 seconds on the clock, Burns had a penalty kick straight in front of the posts. Dave McIntyre with the microphone in hand could hardly believe his eyes. “And he has missed it, Freddie Burns, that is a shocker,” exclaimed McIntyre.

The main event.

With 75 minutes and two seconds on the clock, Burns broke through the Toulouse defence. “And it’s opened up for Freddie Burns,” said McIntyre, as Burns found redemption. . . or so it seemed. McIntrye had to do a double-take. “Or did he get the ball down? He’s got his head in his hands.”

His sidekick Alan Quinlan had no doubts. “Oh my goodness, he knows it. He didn’t score the try . . . he thinks he is over. (Médard) slapped his hands, he didn’t slap the ball. It’s not a try. (He was) blasé going over the line. It’s devastating, you have to feel for the player. It could have been elation, and now it’s devastation,” added Quinlan.

The sequel.

Those back in the Virgin Media studio didn’t share Quinlan’s sympathy levels at all, at all. Not a bit of it. Presenter Joe Molloy brought in Ronan O’Gara and Shane Jennings for their views and you’d swear Burns had just done the stupidest thing anyone has ever done on a rugby pitch. And maybe he had.

“For all the youngsters out there, that is not what yo do,” said Rog.

Bath supporters celebrate Freddie Burns’s try that never was against Toulouse. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP
Bath supporters celebrate Freddie Burns’s try that never was against Toulouse. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP

“I don’t have any sympathy for him at all,” said Jennings. “He ran an unbelievable line to get into the position. Just PUT THE BALL DOWN. You’ve done yourself justice (after missing the kick), get your team back to where they want to be. Don’t’ be giving it his one (banging his chest). Honestly . . . . he was in control of that situation. He could have PUT THE BALL DOWN. Try! And they would have won the game. Man, that’s terrible!”

Rog was on Burns’s case too. “A true leader has to perform . . . you could see from his body language, the relief he was about to score. He switched off. Maybe in the (English) Premiership you get away with that, but at a little higher level (you don’t). Fair play to Médard for chasing him down, he never gave up. It shouldn’t happen . . . you can’t change the past, the most important thing is for the next 10 years in that club, it shouldn’t happen again.”

“His name is going to be synonymous with that for a long time,” nodded Joe, who looked different without his glasses.

Over on BT Sport, Donncha O’Callaghan seemed to enjoy his time in the crowded booth for Munster’s visit to Exeter Chiefs where his was a lone voice in the rather biased views of the other commentators who seemed to be watching the game through Chiefs’ blue tinted glasses.

When it was put to him that Peter O’Mahony’s technique in the scrum wasn’t legal, O’Callaghan quipped back: “It’s probably not to the rules, but we don’t fault that. I feel like we’re squealing (bringing it to anyone’s attention).”

And another time when his co-commentators saw all things Exeter’s way, O’Callaghan responded: “My glasses are quite red rosy.” No sympathy at all, at all. And quite right too!

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