Hard to know who’s more stunned by the news of Michael Bradley’s imminent arrival in Edinburgh – Eddie O’Sullivan, or the Scottish rugby fans who took it for granted that the man who brought Ireland three Triple Crowns in four seasons would be coming to Murrayfield. It beggars belief.
It has been suggested that O’Sullivan’s commitments with the US in the World Cup was a factor in ruling him out of the job. Interestingly Andy Robinson was in a similar position back in 2007 when his media commitments meant he couldn’t take over the same Edinburgh gig until that World Cup was over.
It didn’t stop Edinburgh waiting a few weeks for him, for they knew they had the right man, and he has since moved up to take over the Scotland job where his position is secure despite their woeful record.
O’Sullivan would have been ideal for them, and had they felt the same way about him they could have coped with the delay of a few weeks until US interest in the World Cup ends with their final pool game, on 27 September.
Instead they have gone for Bradley, whose league record with Connacht was one of consistent failure. Three semi-final appearances in the Challenge Cup – losing to Harlequins, Sale and Toulon– stand out as remarkable given his seven seasons stuck in the basement of the Magners League.
The reality of life in the West is that Connacht operate with less cash and lower quality players than the other three provinces, so expecting them to be finishing in the top half of the table on a regular basis is unreal. In Bradley’s first season in Galway they finished fourth from bottom – which, with eight wins, was good going – but in the six seasons since then they were never out of the bottom two, and propped up the table for the last three years.
This would be fair enough if they were spinning out players to be used by the big three, but they haven’t. The notion of Michael Bradley as a coach who has done a wonderful job developing talent is bogus. And the idea of him getting a start in Murrayfield ahead of Eddie O’Sullivan is a mystery.