New Buccaneers head coach Eddie O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile

Rugby club in Connacht appoints Eddie O'Sullivan to head coach role

Eddie O'Sullivan has been appointed head coach at Buccaneers RFC, based in Athlone.

This is a significant signing by the Connacht club, which recently gained promotion to Division 1B of the Energia All-Ireland League following a dramatic playoff final victory over hot favourites Queen’s University in Belfast.

The former Ireland head coach returns to the club he steered to the ‘old’ Division One in 1997/98. 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.

O'Sullivan's return to Dubarry Park on a two-year contract will be seen as a major coup for and signal of intent by the midlanders.

Well renowned and highly respected for his coaching with the Ireland and USA senior squads, O'Sullivan said he is 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,” he commented.

The club is equally pleased, believing O'Sullivan is a coach who can get the most out of their promising squad of eager and willing players.

Working with club’s coaches, Eddie will oversee all senior rugby affairs, 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 fly-half. He was a regular with Munster from 1983 to '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 from 1997 to '99 (while continuing to coach Buccs) and he then succeeded Warren Gatland as Ireland head coach for the period 2001 to '08.

During that term Ireland won Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007, although the Six Nations title narrowly eluded them on a number of occasions. However, his coaching successes saw Ireland rise to number three 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 with the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2009.

Eddie’s formidable coaching track record includes five World Cup finals, three of them as head coach. His expansive coaching history has included the Barbarians, Biarritz Olympique, Old Belvedere and Blackrock College. More recently he has been a sharp media pundit, particularly on RTÉ, and released his autobiography, Never Die Wondering, in 2009.

O’Sullivan’s appointment has been widely welcomed and stirs anticipation ahead of Buccaneers' first training session for the upcoming season, which is pencilled in for July 5.

Buccaneers have a number of teams playing in Connacht Rugby competitions at underage and senior levels.