Freddie Burns’s last-minute drop goal sealed Leicester Tigers’ coronation as Premiership champions for the first time since 2013… but glory comes tinged with sadness as Tom Youngs lifts trophy following his wife’s death from cancer
- Freddie Burns was the hero as Leicester Tigers won the Premiership
- The victory was tinged with sadness after the death of Tom Youngs’ wife
- Youngs lifted the trophy along with Ellis Genge in emotional scenes
On Sunday morning, dressed in denim dungarees and after just a few hours of sleep alongside the Premiership trophy, Freddie Burns was determined to continue Leicester’s title celebrations.
Who could blame him as he revelled in the greatest moment of his career?
Burns’ last-gasp drop goal sealed his team’s coronation as champions of England for the first time since 2013 and was the culmination of the Tigers’ remarkable turnaround from the depths of mediocrity to the best team in the country.
Freddie Burns was the hero as Leicester Tigers won the Premiership on an emotional day
Leicester’s back-up fly-half attended the post-match press conference at Twickenham in his pants and ended Saturday night with a late night McDonald’s.
He didn’t stop there. Burns travelled to meet his team-mates via train on Sunday with the trophy as his companion and a can of cider tucked into his dungarees. A cowboy hat topped off the outfit.
But for all the shenanigans, Leicester’s 11th league title was also tinged with grief.
The passing of Tiffany Youngs earlier this month after a long battle with illness added an extra layer of meaning to their victory — as Leicester’s players admitted.
Tiffany’s husband Tom Youngs, the former Tigers captain, lifted the trophy alongside captain Ellis Genge. It is hard to think of a more emotionally charged Premiership final.
Former Leicester captain Tom Youngs (centre) lifted the trophy alongside Ellis Genge
Pictures of Tom and his brother — Leicester and England scrum-half Ben — with their children after full-time quickly went viral.
‘We’ve had a tough few months on and off the pitch,’ said Genge after his last game in Leicester colours. ‘It’s been a rollercoaster, but that makes this a bit sweeter.
‘Obviously nothing is going to compensate for what’s happened. And what a woman Tiff was. What a man Tommy is. It’s just brilliant to have Tommy here. He’s a dear friend, as is Ben, and hopefully we put a smile on his face.’
Genge’s Leicester and England team-mate Freddie Steward added: ‘We did it for them and I’m so happy Tom could be here to lift the trophy. It gives you that extra five per cent. Tom has given so much to the club. He epitomises everything we believe in and what we want to do.’
Leicester topped the table after every round of the regular season. That was no guarantee of final success, but they deserved to win that too.
Tom Youngs’ wife Tiffany passed away this month following a long battle with illnesss
Head coach Steve Borthwick is now the first man to win the Premiership as a player and a coach and this success further strengthens his case to be the successor to England boss Eddie Jones.
Leicester would have been relegated from the Premiership in 2020 were it not for Saracens’ points deductions for salary-cap breaches. Since then, Borthwick’s work has been superb.
‘I kind of understood it in 2017 when the fans were throwing their season tickets at us when we were 11th,’ said Genge. ‘They’ve been incredible. They’re diehard fans and this is what you get when you stick by a team. Steve has been incredible and he’s a world-class operator.’
Burns was Leicester’s hero after coming off the bench as a first-half substitute for George Ford, who went down with an ankle injury.
Burns, who came off the bench as a first-half substitute, scored a last gasp drop goal
He was excellent, as were powerful, try-scoring forwards Hanro Liebenberg and Jasper Wiese. Fringe England lock Ollie Chessum outplayed the invisible Maro Itoje as Saracens’ big guns failed to fire.
Billy Vunipola was the one bright spark for Saracens as both teams lost a man to a yellow card.
Saracens scrum-half Aled Davies and Leicester’s Matt Scott could well have seen red.
‘We got what we deserved — the better team won,’ said Vunipola’s brother Mako. ‘We’re gutted, but losing this game doesn’t define us.’
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