Freddie Burns, the Bath first five-eighth, has revealed how his family came together to track down and identify an anonymous troll following weeks of being bullied on Twitter.

Pat Bunton is claimed to have sent a high number of tweets harassing Burns after a number of Bath matches at the start of the year, posting under the handle "havingalaugh3".

"I finished a Friday night game and had about 15 to 20 tweets from the same account," Burns told the Telegraph. "But the issue was we could tell it was someone who was relatively close to home, because the stuff he was tweeting ... it's pathetic.

"For example, he posted that I had dyed my hair and added the hashtag #PrimaDonna, with the 'Donna' part capitalised because that is my mother's name. We have a very protective family.


"My older brother Sam who recently came back from Afghanistan, to this day I do not know how he did it, had a play around on the computer and came up with this email address and phone number."

Having identified Bunton, Burns and his family made a formal complaint to his employers, London and Country Mortgages, where he worked as a director. Bunton, who has never commented on the allegations, stepped down a few weeks later, although it is unknown whether this was related to the Twitter posts.

Burns then publicly identified Bunton as the person behind the account in a post titled 'STANDING UP TO BULLYING'.

Bunton and the Burns family were connected by Oldfield Old Boys Rugby Club in Bath, where both Freddie and brother Billy, now at Gloucester, played as juniors. At the time of the tweets Bunton was club chairman and has since resigned. Jeremy Burns, the players' father, was previously Oldfield RFC chairman before Bunton.

"As a family we wondered what to do," Burns added. "We still have friends at the rugby club. So we put it on Sam's Facebook, and word got around. Then we made a formal complaint to his employer, and a week or so later it came out that he had left his job.

"Everyone was congratulating him and thanking him, and it infuriated me. So that was when I made it public. It's about standing up to people like that.

"Did he tweet me the most horrendous abuse in the world? No. But if you start bringing my mother's name into it and stuff like that, it unsettles the family.

"If people want to call me a "s**t rugby player" that's their opinion. Of course, I would like everyone to say I'm the world's best 10, but people aren't of that opinion and that's fine. But don't hide behind an account and bring my family into it. And there was a bit of character assassination too, saying I was in a nightclub shouting about how much money I earn, when I have not been in that nightclub for six, seven years. It was just bizarre.


"I spoke to the local newspaper because it was important to me to get it out there locally. It was not about going after someone with money or anything like that. It was showing what we have to put up with. I have had no apology from him. I don't want one."

The saga with Bunton has only added to an unhappy return so far for Burns to his hometown club, having served a three-week ban back in October for a dangerous tackle, combined with injuries and limited starts behind Wales number 10 Rhys Priestland.

"Being brutally honest, this year has been one massive disappointment for me, from the start of the season when I was not really playing to picking up the red card, it's tough to take," Burns admits. "It's hard because of the city aspect, being from Bath and knowing people. There is no escape for me.

"I have brothers who span over 10 years, schoolmates, my parents have had a business in the city for 35 years. It has made it hard. I won't hide from the fact that I've been disappointed."

With Bath out of contention for the top six and the play-offs, victory against Gloucester in Saturday's West Country derby would provide some solace as Burns gets another chance to go up against his younger brother and Gloucester fly-half, Billy.