Eddie walks the plank

Ireland are looking for a new head coach after Eddie O’Sullivan quit the job.

O’Sullivan was expected to be fired after a disappointing Six Nations campaign that saw Ireland lose three matches, but jumped before he was pushed.

He was appointed coach of Ireland in 2001 (replacing Warren Gatland) and helped plot the downfall of top teams like the Boks, Wallabies and England during his seven-year stint. However, Ireland failed to win the Six Nations while he was in charge – blowing a golden opportunity in 2007. They reached the quarter-finals of the 2003 World Cup, but failed to progress past the pool stage last year. O’Sullivan was offered a new four-year contract just before the 2007 World Cup, and has probably struck a compensation deal with the Irish Rugby Union.

“At the conclusion of the Six Nations championship and having given my role as national team head coach much consideration, I have come to the decision to step down,” O’Sullivan said in a statement. “In doing so I would like to thank my management team and all the players that I have worked with during my tenure as Irish coach.

He also thanked the IRFU for its support and wished the Ireland team well.

Meanwhile, new England flyhalf Danny Cipriani has predictably backed Brian Ashton to continue as head coach. Ashton met with the RFU’s elite rugby director Rob Andrew at Twickenham on Tuesday as part of the RFU’s standard tournament review.

“I just want what’s best for Brian and if he wants to continue, which I know he does, he would relish it and be phenomenal,” said Cipriani, who has known Ashton since he was 16. “I think his ideas are very good and I really respond to the way he thinks. Obviously I’d like to have Brian around because I’ve known him for so long and I feel things have gone well.”

If Ashton is sacked, Jake White would probably become England’s new head coach.