Rugby players, pundits and non-Bath fans have united in sympathy for Bath fullback Freddie Burns.

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His failure to score after having the ball kicked out of his grasp in the dying minutes of Bath’s opening match of the Heineken Champions Cup was pretty much the only talking point on the final whistle.

Bath were trailing Toulouse by 20 points to 22 when Burns – playing out of position – Burns missed a kick in front of the posts to take Bath into the lead.

Just minutes later Burns broke through the defence and was left with what looked like a simply canter in under the posts.

A grinning Burns – carrying the ball in one-hand – slowed to a jog and upon going to place the ball he had it kicked out of his grip by Maxime Meddard. Burns crumples to the ground, his head in his hands.

Todd Blackadder tellingly subbed him off just minutes later. A dejected Burns retreated to the sideline with his head in his hands and looked pretty much inconsolable after referee Andrew Brace blew the whistle for full-time minutes later.

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While many Bath fans were furious, the overall tone of social media was one of sympathy for the living nightmare that Burns was enduring before their eyes.

Former England flyhalf and RugbyPass columnist Andy Goode tweeted: “Feeling for my boy Freddie Burns right now.

“Not many people in the world will understand the feeling of jubilation you get when you make a break and are clean through to score the winner and even fewer will understand the feeling of pain he’s got right now. Chin up fella.”

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“You could see that it hurt him…” Bath headcoach Todd Blackadder suggested. “This is probably the time we need to rally around him.”

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