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Eddie O'Sullivan on the "intriguing" day picking Alex Ferguson's brains in 2004


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For many a head coach, inspiration can come from well off the beaten track.

That's what Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is hoping for ahead of the 2018 Six Nations rugby campaign after spending time picking the brains of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

He's far from the first rugby coach to take tips from purveyors of the round ball rather than the oval.

Indeed, ex-Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan looked to Alex Ferguson during his own tenure, spending time learning from the former Manchester United boss in 2004. 

Eddie O'Sullivan with Keith Wood

On Monday Night Rugby, he told Joe: "I spent the whole day with him over in Carrington. It was fantastic and he talked about everything and he was very, very generous with his time."

Having expected to only get a tour of the place and a five minute chat, he was blown away by the experience.

Eddie has been a Man United fan since the 1960s as he detailed to Joe which added extra resonance. But what was the biggest lesson he learned from the multiple Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League winner?

"It was intriguing to see how he saw things and he built Man United from the ground up literally," he said.

"Actually, it was interesting how he and Bobby Charlton went off to see the academy structures in Europe, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona and decided that's how United will be sustainable.

"And then the strength and conditioning aspect of it and the injury management - all the things that I learned from it, same thing with Ireland, the player management.

"He says the reason they won more leagues than anybody else is that they had the best squad in the Premier League but they kept their best players on the field more than the other teams did because of their strength and conditioning and their medical support."


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