On this day in 2008: Eddie O’Sullivan steps down as Ireland boss

PA Sport Staff
·2-min read

Eddie O’Sullivan announced his resignation as head coach of Ireland on this day in 2008.

O’Sullivan’s seven-year spell in charge came to an end after a group-stage exit at the World Cup was followed by a fourth-placed finish in the Six Nations – Ireland’s worst performance in the championship since 1999.

The news completed a dramatic turnaround for O’Sullivan, who guided Ireland to three Triple Crowns in four years from 2004 to 2007, led them as high as third in the world rankings and had been tipped as the next coach of the British and Irish Lions.

O’Sullivan's Ireland failed to get out of their pool at the 2007 World Cup (Julien Behal/PA).
O’Sullivan’s Ireland failed to get out of their pool at the 2007 World Cup (Julien Behal/PA)

Having been handed a four-year contract just before the 2007 World Cup, O’Sullivan then saw his side produce unconvincing victories over Namibia and Georgia and suffer defeats to France and Argentina as they crashed out at the pool stage.

The subsequent Six Nations campaign included a struggle to beat Italy and a home loss to Wales, before concluding with a 33-10 defeat to England at Twickenham that proved O’Sullivan’s last match in charge – his resignation announcement came four days later.

In a statement released by his agent John Baker, O’Sullivan said: “At the conclusion of the Six Nations, and having given my role as national team head coach much consideration, I have come to the decision to step down.

Coming fourth in the 2008 Six Nations was Ireland's worst finish in the championship since 1999 (Julien Behal/PA).
Coming fourth in the 2008 Six Nations was Ireland’s worst finish in the championship since 1999 (Julien Behal/PA)

“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 (Irish Rugby Football Union) 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.”

O’Sullivan, then aged 49, went on have a second stint in charge of the United States national team, and spells as head coach at Biarritz and Old Belvedere.