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Back to back tournament flops forces Eddie O’ Sullivan to

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Eddie O’Sullivan resigned on Wednesday night as Ireland rugby coach after his talented, highly regarded squad suffered back-to-back flops at the World Cup and Six Nations tournaments.


O’Sullivan, 49, had led Ireland since 2001 to its best results in the modern era. His reward was a new four-year contract before last year’s World Cup in France.


But since then it’s been all downhill for O’Sullivan, capped Saturday by a 33-10 drubbing at the hands of the old enemy, England.


That gave Ireland a fourth-place finish in the Six Nations, its worst result since 1999.


In a statement released, O’Sullivan thanked his players, fans and the Irish Rugby Football Union for standing by him during the past year’s largely disappointing results.

 

He expressed his hope that the team would excel again “in a professional sport that is becoming more demanding and competitive by the day.”

Only a year ago, O’Sullivan was considered one of the rising managerial stars in world rugby. His new contract even contained a clause allowing him to take time off from the job if he was appointed to coach the British and Irish Lions in 2009 – an extremely unlikely prospect now.


He received the contract on the back of his team’s consistent growth, achieving three Triple Crown wins and narrowly missing out on Grand Slams in 2006 and 2007. Ireland achieved a No. 3 world ranking in late 2006 and early 2007.


But the World Cup that summer proved a disaster for O’Sullivan and Ireland, which turned inexplicably sloppy and complacent.


For only the second time in World Cup play, Ireland failed to advance from its pool, eking out embarrassingly close wins against minnows Namibia and Georgia and losing to France and Argentina.


Ireland started out its Six Nations campaign in similarly tepid form, relying on luck to beat the tournament’s perennial doormat, Italy. Losses to France, Wales and England followed.


Yet immediately after Saturday’s hammering at Twickenham, O’Sullivan insisted he had no intention of quitting.


“I believe I am the right man to lead Irish rugby,” O’Sullivan said then.


“I think the question for me is: Have I got the hunger for this job? And the answer to that is absolutely, 100 percent.”


The early favorite to succeed O’Sullivan is Declan Kidney, the coach of Irish side Munster.


Sapa-AP – Rugbyweek.com

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