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Holm Truths: Freddie Burns on moment of history at Gloucester Rugby

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 22, 2013


Freddie Burns

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IT WAS a moment for the family scrapbook, albeit under the most unfortunate of circumstances.

James Simpson-Daniel had been carried off with what medics would later confirm was a season-ending ankle break and Freddie Burns moved to inside centre to accommodate the oncoming Gloucester fly-half.

No-one expected it to happen. Not even during their youth did Freddie share the same field as his brother Billy, who is four years his junior.

Billy made a straight swap for his older sibling a week earlier at Franklin’s Gardens but that is as close as the Burns brethren had come to making family history.

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And that’s what their father, Jerry – their greatest supporter – probably expected a week later as he decided to tie up his boots to play for a team back home in Bath rather than travel up to Kingsholm.

“Little Bill” as Freddie calls him took up the mantle at fly-half midway through the first half against Newcastle Falcons and guided the Cherry and Whites to victory with his brother by his side.

“I think I gave him the armchair, didn’t I?” said Burns senior with a wry smile.

“I told him what to do - I was the puppeteer at 12!

“He came on and I think he did exceptionally well for a guy who has got a very cool head.

“He has definitely got all the skills there and I am just pleased that he can do it in a first-team game with a Gloucester shirt on as well as what he does on a Monday night in the A league.

“It was awesome. I have never played with Bill before – even at school – because we were in different years.

“I played a bit of local rugby at the same club but at different age groups. To take the field together for the first time, especially in a professional game, was pretty special.

“My older brother was only 18 months older than me whereas Bill is four years younger, so it was easier for me to hop up and play alongside my older brother than it was for Bill.

“But, believe it or not, my old man – who is 56 – decided to put the boots on and have a game on Saturday. So he missed the game but our mum was there.

“I didn’t think they really expected us to play together and it only happened under unfortunate circumstances.

“We went out for some dinner that night to celebrate and just to be with him in the changing room after a win made it a special day.”

Freddie played regularly alongside his dad and two older brothers at Oldfield before he made the move to Gloucester.

And it is his father’s competitive edge, whether that

be in rugby or his beloved Motocross, that instilled the sporting blood into the Burns genetics.

“He is always the first to ruck but by the time he gets there the ball has usually gone,” Freddie jokes.

“He gets quite grouchy if he doesn’t play so every few weeks my mum has to tell him to put his boots on and go and play.

“A couple of years ago he hurt his ankle. I was living up here in Gloucester at the time and once, when I went home, I found him in the garage on a rowing machine he bought for himself!

“He was doing all this ‘ankle rehabilitation’ and I had to tell him that he wasn’t one of these 21-year-old professional rugby players and that he just needed to rest.

“I love the fact that he plays – we have a rugby family and it’s great that he is still as enthusiastic as he ever was.

“I would love to be as enthusiastic as he is at 50-odd though. But the way my body feels now I have to wait and see if I have the capacity to do it at his age.”

Billy Burns earns himself a position on the bench again as Gloucester look to revitalise their Aviva Premiership campaign away to Harlequins tomorrow.

“We’re in a position now where every game is a must-win I guess, and we need to win if we want to climb up the table,” Freddie continued.

“Quins are a great team and I expect we will be under the cosh a little bit because of their quality. The Stoop is a tough place to go and they have found some form.

“But hopefully the two wins we’re coming off (against Japan and Newcastle) will give us that little bit of momentum we need to go there and perform well and get something from the game.

“I know it is cliché but we do have to take each week as it comes, especially where we are with regards to the start we have had to the season.

“We’re not where we want to be and, if we start thinking about Leicester before we look at Quins, we will come unstuck.

“It’s important that we just focus on today’s game and only afterwards can we park that up and turn our focus on Leicester.

“It’s a big few weeks for the club but I think the big games are the ones that bring the best out of the players.”

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  • jasonbennett9  |  November 23 2013, 12:26PM

    This is all well and good but what a club like Gloucester Rugby really needs to do is to ensure that Rupҽrt Hardҽn, our first choice and most talented tight head prop, starts as many games for Gloucester as is possible. They also need to get some decent back up in for him.

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