Ospreys Rugby are delighted to announce that former Ulster, Northampton Saints and Ireland hooker, Allen Clarke, will take up the position of Forwards Coach this summer.
He will report for duty at Llandarcy Academy of Sport for pre-season, replacing Chris Gibbes in the role. Gibbes confirmed in January he will leave the Ospreys at the end of the season to head home to New Zealand and become Head Coach at Mitre 10 Cup side Wellington Lions.
Clarke will join the Ospreys from Guinness PRO12 rivals Ulster, where he has enjoyed success as both player and coach over a period of 20 years, either side of a five-year spell as Irish Rugby's High Performance Manager. He also spent eight years as a player in England at Franklin’s Gardens.
“I’m delighted to have this opportunity and really excited about the next challenge in my career” said Clarke.
“Why the Ospreys? What’s impressed me is the people. Many organisations will have values and I get the sense that the people at the Ospreys really do believe and live their values. That creates a good environment to work in, a culture that I’m looking forward to being part of.
“It’s an ambitious organisation, with a great mix of experience and some real talent coming through, and I hope that I can add value, for the players, the coaches and the management. Chris Gibbes has done a great job in building a pack that has the potential to go toe-to-toe with anyone and I’m grateful to have that platform to work from when I arrive in the summer. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“Ulster, and Irish rugby, has been my life for such a long time, but I’m excited and highly motivated about joining the Ospreys and making the move to the region with my wife, Kerry, it’s a great new adventure for us.
“However, all parties, myself, Ulster and the Ospreys, have a lot of work to do and goals to achieve before the end of the season, when I’ll be able to focus on the future.”
Capped eight times by Ireland, he was a key player in Ulster’s 1999 Heineken Cup run, including the 21-6 win over Colomiers at Lansdowne Road in the final, the province’s only European title.
Arguably, Clarke has been more influential off the field, having made a successful transition at the start of the century, his first off-field role seeing him establish the Ulster Rugby Academy.
In 2004 he was appointed as Assistant Coach to Mark McCall, helping the province to a first ever Celtic League title, secured at the Liberty Stadium on the final day of the 05/06 season thanks to a 79th minute, 40m, David Humphreys drop goal to clinch a 19-17 win over the Ospreys.
The following season he left Ulster to take up a position as High Performance Manager with the IRFU, overseeing the national age-grade and development programme. He returned to his home province in 2012, and was confirmed in his current role as Forwards Coach at KIngspan Stadium ahead of the 2014/15 season.
Clarke also has experience of coaching on the international scene, coaching Ireland ‘A’ for a number of years and, more recently, Emerging Ireland to success in the 2015 Tbilisi Cup ahead of Georgia, Italy A and Uruguay.
Andrew Millward, Managing Director of the Ospreys, commented:
“After Chris Gibbes advised us of his intentions to move on at the end of the season we made it a priority to identify and recruit a highly respected coach of the calibre needed to continue, and build on, Gibbo’s excellent work. We’ve definitely achieved that with the appointment of Allen Clarke.
“He’s renowned for his energy, his meticulous preparation and his knowledge of the setpiece area. Combine that with a proven track record in, and passion for, player development, and you’ve got someone whose own approach sits comfortably within our values as an organisation. He will be a valuable addition to the coaching team when Gibbo heads home at the end of the season.”