Eddie O'Sullivan

Eddie O'Sullivan
Date of birth (1958-11-21) 21 November 1958
Place of birth Youghal, County Cork, Ireland
Height 5 2
Rugby union career
Coaching career
Years Club / team
 United States
 United States
Biarritz Olympique

Eddie O'Sullivan (born 21 November 1958) is an Irish rugby union coach and a former footballer. He is a former head coach of the United States national rugby union team and of the Ireland national rugby union team.[1] He was head coach of Biarritz Olympique, who play in the second tier of France, until September 2015.[2]

Early career

O'Sullivan was born in Youghal, Cork, Ireland. After attending the Christian Brothers school in the town, he graduated from Thomond College, which a decade later became part of the University of Limerick.

O'Sullivan played for the Garryowen Football Club during the 1970s and 1980s, while teaching physical education, maths, and science in Mountbellew, County Galway. He also played Gaelic Football. In 1982, he played corner forward on the Mountbellew Moylough Gaelic football team that lost the Galway Senior Football Final.

Coaching career

He started his coaching career at a Galway club Monivea RFC before being appointed as a rugby development officer with the IRFU. He followed this with spells coaching at Blackrock College, (first as assistant, then as head coach) Connacht and the Irish Under-21 side. The Under-21 side won the 1996 Triple Crown, beating Clive Woodward's England.

After failing to secure a high-profile coaching position in Ireland, O'Sullivan moved to America to coach the US Eagles. He was then appointed as the assistant coach of the Irish national side in 1999, and in 2001 as the head coach following the departure of Warren Gatland.


In his first year Ireland had a disappointing third-place finish in the 2002 Six Nations Championship. O'Sullivan's Ireland went on to achieve second place in 2003, only losing the Grand Slam in the final match against England. At the 2003 Rugby World Cup his team lost badly to France in the quarter finals.

Ireland again missed out in the 2004 Six Nations Championship, losing the Grand Slam to France this time. After starting as many people's favourites for 2005, O'Sullivan's side slumped to third place with defeats by France and Wales. In both 2006 and 2007 further defeats by France cost Ireland the Championship.[3]

O'Sullivan won 3 triple crowns with Ireland, in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

2007 World Cup campaign

In August 2007, O'Sullivan's contract with the IRFU was extended for a further four years, which meant that he was contracted to be in charge of the Irish Rugby Team until 2012. Part of the terms of the contract allowed him to leave the position temporarily to coach the 2009 Lions squad, were he to be offered that role.[4] Soon, however, he was the subject of press criticism after a run of poor results. Ireland turned in poor performances in the opening matches of the World Cup against the lower rated Georgia and Namibia. They had previously also struggled in pre-tournament games against Italy, Scotland and Argentina. Criticisms included a failure to inspire passion in the team[5] and a failure to have developed any depth in the squad, which has been said to have caused complacency in the first team players.[6] Many began to see the signing of his contract as a premature move. Ulster's Justin Harrison, an ex-Australia International, was scathing of the IRFU's decision to sign O'Sullivan a new contract. He was also criticised for his refusal to play Geordan Murphy, who had excelled in club games in England.[6][7] Rumours have abounded of conflict in the Irish camp stemming from this, and even that Murphy might leave the squad as a result.[8] The string of poor results continued with the failure of Ireland, for the second time in its history, to qualify for the quarter-final stages of the World Cup, finishing third in its Group with two wins and two losses.

End of Irish career

On 19 March 2008, O'Sullivan resigned from his job after a disappointing 6 Nations campaign.

O'Sullivan released his autobiography, Never Die Wondering ISBN 978-1-84605-399-3, in Autumn 2009. It was written with sports writer Vincent Hogan.

United States

O'Sullivan returned to the United States for a stint as head coach of the United States national rugby union team. After coaching the Irish Under-21 team to their first ever Triple Crown in ’97, O’Sullivan joined USA Rugby as assistant coach to the Eagles (forwards coach) and assistant national technical director. In 1998, he took over as national technical director while still retaining his position on the Eagles coaching staff.

The position came open when Scott Johnson announced he would leave the team at the end of the 2008–09 season to move to Ospreys of the Magners League.[9] O'Sullivan's agent reported on 16 February that O'Sullivan had signed a deal that would see him coach the United States through the 2011 World Cup.[10] His hiring was officially announced on 4 March.[11]


In March 2013 it was announced that O'Sullivan would help the Cypriot national team, giving on advice on how the union and the team can improve on its limited budget.[12]

Biarritz Olympique

In May 2014 O'Sullivan was confirmed as head coach of Biarritz Olympique. Relegated from the Top 14 following the 2013-14 season, Biarritz played in the Pro D2 league in 2014-15. O'Sullivan left Biarritz Olympique in September 2015.[13]


Sporting positions
Preceded by
New Zealand Warren Gatland
Ireland National Rugby Union Coach
Succeeded by
Republic of Ireland Declan Kidney
Preceded by
Australia Scott Johnson
United States National Rugby Union Coach
Succeeded by
United States Mike Tolkin
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