Paris – Eddie O’Sullivan resigned from the Ireland job on Wednesday bringing an end to the reign of the country’s most successful international coach.
After six years in the job and winning three Triple Crowns, the 49-year-old Corkman stepped down following a disappointing Six Nations Championship which culminated in a humiliating 33-10 defeat to England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Following last year’s disaster at the World Cup, commentators who had long criticised his conservative approach to team selection, tactics and coaching staff, believed a good Six Nations may be his only chance of staying in the job.
But before the World Cup O’Sullivan had signed a four-year contract thought to be worth 350 000-euros per year. The Irish Rugby Football Union were strongly criticised for making a commitment which could now prove to be an expensive mistake.
O’Sullivan issued a brief statement through a Public Relations company but made no mention of the terms of his severance.
The statement said: “At the conclusion of the Six Nations Championship and having given my role as National Team Head Coach much consideration, I have come to the decision to step down.
“In doing so I would like to thank my management team and all the players that I have worked with during my tenure as Irish coach. Their commitment and professionalism in representing their country has been consummate throughout. I would also like to thank the IRFU for their unwavering support of me as coach to the team.
“In addition, I would like to thank the Irish rugby supporters who have played a huge role in driving the team on to some outstanding performances in recent years.
“Finally I would like to wish the Irish rugby team and the IRFU every success in the future, in a professional sport that is becoming more demanding and competitive by the day.”
A spokesperson for the IRFU was not available. Signs that O’Sullivan’s departure was imminent emerged on Tuesday when strength-and-conditioning coach Mike McGurn and skills coach Bryan McLoughlin left the coaching staff.
O’Sullivan is credited with bringing Irish rugby into the professional era but was criticised for developing a talented group of players that should have done better.
Names likely to figure in the race to succeed him are Munster coach Declan Kidney, World Cup winning South African coach Jake White and Australian Pat Howard, formerly of Leicester Tigers.
Former Ireland scrumhalf and current Connacht coach Michael Bradley is also an outsider.Tweet