Why Eddie Must Go

Eddie O’Sullivan, manager of the Ireland rugby team, must go.

I am absolutely ****ing livid that anyone could even consider anything else for Irish rugby right now.

The honourable thing would be to resign but for financial reasons he probably won’t do that and I understand his position on that front. The IRFU board members responsible for the contract extension should also resign on general principles.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about “not making emotional decisions”, “let the dust settle”, “wait until after the competition before the inquest begins” and lots in a similar vein.

For us, the competition is over. The dust has settled. We still have a lot of unanswered questions, all of which are real and valid, and none of which are emotional (although I must admit they inspire a lot of frustration).

  • How could this group of seriously talented players fail so completely?
  • Why did we not make use of our squad?
  • Why do we never make tactical substitutions?
  • Why didn’t we know how to ruck?
  • Why don’t we change our lineout when it’s not working?
  • What exactly did Geordan Murphy, Alan Quinlan et al. do to gain social outcast status?
  • Just how badly does our out-half have to perform, game after game, after game, after game, to get dropped?
  • What’s different about scrum-half that he can get dropped?

We don’t have a replacement for out-half, so that last question is unfair? Ok, well answer me this:

  • Why in the so called “development tour” to Japan in the summer of 2005, did we play a half-back pairing of Peter Stringer and David Humphries? How is this “development”?

Could we have maybe tried a couple of new 9s and 10s (y’know, development)? We beat Japan 44-12 and 47-18. Was it was too risky with our Lions players and manager in New Zealand? Don’t bother telling me Eddie wasn’t involved in selection – this is his job, he’s a professional manager.

On the topic of O’Gara, I don’t care about his private life, it’s entirely his business. What I do care about is his form. His kicking and passing was way off form for every single World Cup game and he should have been dropped. That’s not the player’s fault, it’s the manager’s.

Speaking of fault and whether the players should bear the brunt of the blame… what a load of rubbish. The manager is the boss. The gaffer as Steve would tell us. “The buck stops here“. If there is a problem in the squad, with the players, with psychology or group dynamics, or social order, or the bloody breakfast cereal, it’s the managers fault.

Eddie, be a f##king man and put your hand up. Maybe you really don’t know the answers to why the team performed so poorly, but I know you can answer the other questions we’ve asked, like why you don’t use squad rotation, never make tactical substitutions, and never, ever change the pack. Your choices may not have been the sole cause of the embarrassing demise of this Irish rugby team, but you’ll find a hard job convincing me that they didn’t strongly contribute to it.

I’m not embarrassed by the Irish players. I’m fairly embarrassed for most of them who didn’t perform, and suspect they’re very disappointed with themselves. It’s worse for the likes of Hickey and BOD who did stellar jobs considering the circumstances and didn’t have support around them.

Standing in Parc des Princes on Sunday evening, roaring out “The Fields” as our World Cup lay in tatters, we did everything we could to try and help the team bar coming onto the pitch and actually driving over the rucks. I hope the players appreciate the noise we made in such conditions, they didn’t come out to us after the medal “ceremony” but I can imagine the absolute disappointment took hold at that stage. We will continue to try to be the best sports fans in the world, regardless of results.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne told RTE: “We have put our faith in Eddie. We made decisions last May in terms of where we wanted to go over the next four years – we’re happy with that decision. In our view he’s the best man for the job.”

Browne added: “What we have is a situation where we’ve had three bad matches and people are very disappointed – no more than ourselves.

“But we also have to reflect on what has happened over the last four or five years, where we have had the most successful performance of any Irish team or squad.

“That, in effect, really dictated and set the scene or the context in which we made decisions.”

I think Philip has been going to the EOS School of Media Interviews. What we have here is a situation where we have a manager with what is the most talented squad of Irish rugby players EVER. That’s not even in question. What do we have to show for this? Two failed Championship efforts, a couple of Triple Crowns and our worst ever World Cup performance. Philip, I don’t know what planet you’re on, but we’ve had bad matches against Argentina (twice), Scotland, Italy, Bayonne, nearly beaten by minnows Nambia, scraped past Georgia without a bonus point (did you know they have 8 rugby pitches and three hundred adult players in the entire country?), beaten by a poor French team, and thrashed by an utterly superior Argentinian team for the 3rd time this year.

Do you want to talk about our great Six Nations instead? Where we were lucky against Wales, had a terrible first half against France, almost stole it but for our useless defence in the last minute. Yes, we annihilated England, and we’re finding out just what that victory meant with their performances in the RWC. We scraped a win in Scotland, and finally managed to throw away a Championship victory by letting Italy steal a vital try in the dying minutes in Rome. Yes, 2nd place in the Championship and a Triple Crown sound better, eh?

No, Eddie must accept responsibility for his squa team’s performance and the sham that has been Ireland’s greatest ever world cup preparation. Philip must accept responsibility for giving a 4 year contract extension blank slate.

In case any hacks attack me as an “anonymous internet blogger”, let me state that my real name is Alastair McDermott, and I am in no way anonymous.