The next couple of weeks will be crucial in the career of Eddie O’Sullivan. At this point in the build up to the last World Cup he was en route to a second contract extension that would have taken him up until next year. Instead Ireland’s collapse at RWC 2007 tore a hole in that plan, and the dismal Six Nations that followed pushed him below the waterline. Months of idleness – he’s not good at sitting still – followed his separation from the IRFU before he surfaced again with USA Rugby.
And now he is the favourite for the Edinburgh job. I suspect that the attraction of the Murrayfield gig has more to do with geography than potential. Scottish rugby is on its uppers. Their best players are leaving, driven away by diminishing budgets and ritual failure.
But for all that, Edinburgh is a lot closer to O’Sullivan’s family in Moylough Co Galway than Boulder Colorado. And while the Scots don’t have a pot to pee in neither do the Americans. O’Sullivan had done a lot to transform Ireland into a serious, big-spending rugby operation. When he fetched up in the States is was like going back further than square one.
Squad sessions and training camps and tours need very careful planning across the Atlantic because there is so little cash to fund them. And it’s not as if O’Sullivan has a free run at the best players in the US. Sevens has a bigger profile there. There are some who would sooner hitch their wagon to the short game than the long one.
So if the Edinburgh job works out you’ll find that O’Sullivan will be able to cope with the shortcomings. The intriguing thing would be how he would fare in a day job. And he has never had one of those – at least not in rugby.
Connacht back in the mid 1990s was the closest he came to that and even then it was a part-time operation. All his time since then has been taken up as head coach in either Ireland or USA where his involvement with players came only in bursts. Looks like he would love the chance to see how it might work out.