Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Eddie O’Sullivan resigned from his post as Ireland’s Head Coach last night. His resignation was more of a preemptive strike as he was likely to be fired after a disappointing Six Nations campaign that followed the Irish meltdown at the Rugby World Cup in the Fall. Could his resignation have put him in the mix for the Eagles job?
Multiple sources have listed Aussie Scott Johnson as the frontrunner to take over as coach of the Eagles. Johnson recently turned down an offer to take over the Cardiff Blues of the Magners League. In the most recent issue of Rugby Magazine, an interview with, USA Rugby Chairman, Kevin Roberts confirmed pretty much the same thing. Roberts stated that the Eagles coaching position was down to a “Kiwi and an Aussie”. The Kiwi was, of course, Graham Henry who retained his position with the All Blacks. The Aussie referred to in the article was most likely Johnson.
The question remains… if Johnson is the frontrunner and has declined the offer from Cardiff, why the wait? If he’s the man, then he should have been signed the very next day and announcements made. Here we are a few weeks later and still no word out of Boulder. It leads one to think that USA Rugby isn’t completely sold on Johnson. Or Maybe it was because USA Rugby was waiting to see how the Six Nations shook out? It was no secret that O’Sullivan’s job was on the line after the World Cup and his fate was pretty much sealed after a disappointing Six Nations that was closed out with a 33-10 defeat at the hands of England. Even more importantly, O’Sullivan is familiar with rugby in America, having served as an assistant with the Eagles from 1997-1999.
O’Sullivan, 49, still has plenty of coaching left in him too. A move to the USA might be the best thing for a coach looking to bounce back. There’s no doubting his ability to coach at the International level as Ireland collected three Triple Crowns since he took over in 2001 and stood as one of the favorites heading into the 2007 Rugby World Cup. While the expectations for the next Eagles coach will be high (we need some wins… bad), they will be no where close to the expectations and scrutiny placed on him as coach of Ireland.
Regardless, with the Churchill Cup kicking off in a little over two months and a full slate of matches on deck for 2008, the Eagles need a coach and they need one soon.
Editors Note (Friday March 21st, 2008): The BBC has just posted a news story saying that Scott Johnson will be named the Eagles Head Coach this weekend. Click here for the story.