Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne has offered his public support of Eddie O’Sullivan, admitting that “he’s still the best man for the job” as Ireland coach despite Ireland’s failure to qualify for the World Cup’s knockout stages.
Speaking to RTE News, Browne confirmed that a full review of Ireland’s World Cup performance will be undertaken and that O’Sullivan’s role and performance as coach will also be looked at.
“Of course it will. And everyone else involved with the team. The professional structures that are there to support the team in terms of logistics, in terms of the medical set-up, in terms of the fitness set-up.
“We’ve always taken a view that we look at ourselves honestly and this is no different,” he said.
Browne insisted that any decisions in the review process will be taken in “a considered way” and that having continuity in the coaching system is important as Ireland look to get back on track and look forward to the years ahead.
Reflecting on the World Cup, he added: “What we have is a situation where we’ve had three bad matches and people are very disappointed – no more so than ourselves – but we also have to reflect on what has happened over the last four or five years, where we have had the most successful performance of any Irish team or squad.
“That in effect really dictated and set the scene or the context in which we made decisions. In our view those decisions were right and we are quite happy with the situation we have.
“You can look across the water in Wales, where decisions have been made in relation to their coach. Wales are going into a situation where they have had 12 or 14 coaches in the last 21 years.
“I don’t think that is necessarily good for Irish rugby to go down that road. We believe in continuity. We are a small sporting nation, and I think what Eddie has brought to this team and Irish rugby has been second to none.
“I think we had a blip (at the World Cup). We are going to have to address the reasons why we had that blip and we’ll do that in a considered way in a review process.”
Asked if O’Sullivan’s new four-year contract, which was confirmed prior to the World Cup, will be honoured, Browne said: “Absolutely. At the end of the day, we’ve put our faith in Eddie. We made decisions last May in terms of where we wanted to go forwards over the next few years, that came to fruition in the form of a contract with Eddie for the next four years.
“We’re very happy with that decision and in our view, he’s still the best man for the job.”