Divided loyalties for the Burns family as Ulster take on Bath

There will be divided loyalties in the Burns household come 1.00pm tomorrow afternoon as brothers Billy and Freddie go head to head when Ulster face Bath in the opening pool game in the European Champions Cup at the Rec.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 10:50 am
Ulster's Billy Burns runs in a try against Cardiff Blues. Picture by Brian Little

Billy is likely to start at out-half for Ulster while Freddie has started Bath’s last two Premiership games at full back.

The Ulster out-half is four years younger than his brother and has been looking forward to the game since the draw was made in June.

“I cannot wait, it is was just bound to happen wasn’t it,” joked Billy.

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“I was in my car and I had it on the radio (the draw), and when it got down to the last eight or nine teams I was sort of sure it was going to happen,

“It was strange, but we have already been giving each other a fair bit of abuse about it. It will be awesome, it will be a great occasion, I have a lot of friends and family who still support Bath and still go down there.

“It was a club I supported as a child and I got introduced to rugby at Bath, so it will be a great experience, ultimately we will be trying to get the result against them.

“I have played against Fred a few times before and it is obviously a special occasion for the family - not for my mum - but the rest of them, we will have good crack obviously.

“It is a tough one yes, because when you are put into the Champions Cup there are so many quality teams.

“You do not really look at it, you would rather have these or this or whatever but obviously for me it is great.

“The minute it was announced Dan McFarland text me straight away and said ‘you are playing against your brother get your head on,’ it is great to play against him.

“I am looking forward to it more because it is quite strange how my rugby career has gone.

“I started in Bath and I am now going to be going back across and representing the province here, it will be a strange feeling but one I will be massively proud off, and to do it in front of a lot of people I went to school with, and obviously with my mum and dad now having to fly across here to watch me, they can just pop down the road will be good.”

“It will not be good if we lose that is for sure. It will be a better experience if we win.”

Burns has fond memories of Bath.

“I was ball boy at the The Rec for four or five years,” he said. “I probably overstayed my welcome there, but I loved it so much, I was about 15 and the rest of them were all about 10 but it was good.

“I used to go down there and watch and obviously Freddy was in the Bath Academy for a little while before he made the move to Gloucester.

“But I used to always be down there watching all the games, none of the players even play anymore for Bath from back when I was down there. That was probably where I got my first love for rugby, but I really harnessed the sport and knew that it was something I wanted to do when I went down there to watch those guys.

“Lee Mears it would have been at that stage, Danny Grewcock and Steve Brothwick in the second row, that was back when the fine arts of being able to kick someone on the floor was going on, so I was semi-hesitant if it was a sport I wanted to get involved in.”