Eddie O’Sullivan has been appointed as head coach at Buccaneers RFC, in a significant signing by the Athlone club who recently gained promotion to Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1B.
O’Sullivan returns to the club he steered to the ‘old’ Division One in 1997/98 and he helmed the Pirates to a top four finish the following season, before Ireland came calling for his services just weeks before the commencement of the ensuing season.
His return to Dubarry Park on a two-year contract will be seen as a major coup for and signal of intent by the midlanders, who edged out Queen’s University in April’s thrilling promotion play-off final.
O’Sullivan, well renowned and highly-respected for his coaching of both Ireland and the USA at international level, said: “I’m delighted to be back and involved again at Buccaneers. I enjoyed my time there previously and I believe there is a young but highly talented group with rich potential at Buccs to further develop.”
The Pirates are equally pleased, believing he is ‘a coach who can get the most out of their promising squad of eager and willing players’. Working with club’s coaches, he will oversee all senior rugby, including the Under-20s and juniors.
A native of Youghal, Co. Cork, O’Sullivan’s playing career took off at Garryowen where he played mainly on the wing but also at out-half. He was a regular with Munster during 1983/86 and won an Ireland ‘A’ cap in 1984.
Taking up a teaching position he Galway, his first foray into coaching was at nearby Monivea. He coached Connacht in the mid-1990s and led Ireland to a first ever Under-21 Triple Crown in 1996.
His next key coaching role was with the USA Eagles in 1997/99 and he then succeeded Warren Gatland as Ireland head coach between 2001 and 2008.
During that time Ireland won Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007 although the Six Nations title narrowly eluded them on a number of occasions.
The 63-year-old’s coaching successes saw Ireland rise to number 3 in the world rankings and also forge a record 43-13 victory over England in that historic match played at Croke Park in 2007. He was also an assistant coach for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2009.
O’Sullivan’s formidable coaching track record includes five Rugby World Cups, three of them as head coach. His expansive coaching history has included the Barbarians, Biarritz Olympique, Old Belvedere, Garryowen and Blackrock College.
More recently he has been a sharp media pundit, particularly on RTE Television, and released his autobiography, ‘Never Die Wondering’, in 2009.
O’Sullivan’s marquee appointment has been widely welcomed and stirs anticipation ahead of Buccaneers’ first training session for the upcoming season, pencilled in for July 5.