Former Ireland and USA head coach Eddie O’Sullivan will take over the coaching of the Old Belvedere senior squad for next season, as they look to recover from their recent relegation from Ulster Bank League Division 1A.
Paul Cunningham has stepped down as Old Belvedere head coach after four years at the helm, the last of which saw ‘Belvo crowned Leinster Senior League champions but suffer relegation from the top flight and lose both the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup and Leinster Senior Cup finals.
Cunningham, who previously had great success as coach of Garryowen, won the Division 1A Coach of the Year award in 2014 after ‘Belvo finished as runners-up in the league, and he also coached the Ireland Club international team in 2015 and 2016.
He will be replaced at Anglesea Road by Eddie O’Sullivan, who assisted Cunningham for the final three months of the 2016/17 league season and brings a vast amount of experience with him having previously coached a number of local clubs as well as Connacht, Ireland, the Barbarians, USA Eagles and Biarritz Olympique.
O’Sullivan guided the Ireland Under-21s to their first ever Triple Crown in 1996 and followed up in 2004 with Ireland’s first Triple Crown at senior level in 19 years. The Corkman coached Ireland at two Rugby World Cups and his seven-year tenure produced a 64% win ratio, three Triple Crowns, two spells at number 3 in the World Rugby Rankings and famous victories over the likes of England, Australia and South Africa.
Confirming Old Belvedere’s coaching change, club President Willie Norse said: “Paul Cunningham has stood down as head coach to our senior team. We thank him for his huge input over the last number of seasons, not only with the senior side, but also throughout our club, from Minis to Women’s to Juniors and Under-20s.
“Eddie O’Sullivan has been appointed as head coach to the senior panel for next season. Eddie is fully committed to Old Belvedere, and he is already hard at work putting in place structures, speaking with our existing players and assisting with player recruitment, as we seek to strengthen our panel.”
Experienced hooker Ed Rossiter, a key member of the Dubliners’ pack in recent seasons, has been appointed as ‘Belvo captain for 2017/18.