/ 20 March 2008

O’Sullivan resigns as Ireland coach

Eddie O’Sullivan has resigned as Ireland coach following a disappointing Six Nations campaign and the side’s early exit from last year’s World Cup.

”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,” Irish broadcaster RTE quoted O’Sullivan as saying in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

Ireland finished fourth in the Six Nations, winning two matches out of five. They were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages.

The poor performances generated widespread disappointment and criticism in Ireland where O’Sullivan was felt to have one of the best squads in decades at his disposal after Munster won the 2006 European Cup.

O’Sullivan, in the job since November 2001, has, however, been one of Ireland’s most successful coaches having led the side to three Triple Crowns and come close to winning last year’s Six Nations.

O’Sullivan thanked his management team and players for their commitment.

”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,” he said in the statement.

O’Sullivan (49) had been awarded a new four-year contract in advance of the 2007 World Cup last September.

Munster’s Declan Kidney and South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach, Jake White, are the bookmakers’ early favourites to succeed O’Sullivan. — Reuters