Ospreys Rugby are delighted to confirm that Allen Clarke has been appointed Head Coach on a three-year contract.
- Clarke takes Head Coach role on a permanent basis having been in interim charge since the end of January
- Has agreed a three-year deal and will now prepare the team for Champions Cup play-off next month and begin preparation for 2018/19 season in earnest
- The 1999 Heineken Cup winner has previously held senior coaching roles with Ulster, winning the 05/06 Magners League, as well as serving the IRFU as High Performance Manager and coaching the Irish national U20 and 'A' teams
The former Ireland hooker, who joined the Ospreys last summer as Forwards Coach, has been in interim control of the senior team since January.
With a Champions Cup play-off coming up in May, Clarke can now begin planning in earnest for next season after being handed the reins on a full-time basis.
Andrew Millward, Managing Director, Ospreys Rugby, confirmed the appointment, saying:
“When we began the search for a new Head Coach we said we were looking for someone who we considered to be ‘world class’. For us, that meant we wanted someone able to get the best out of the assets available to them, someone with experience of creating a culture, an environment, who had the respect of players and his coaching peers alike. We wanted someone with a technical and tactical appreciation of the game, good man management and who felt a true part of the journey.
“Over the last three months we’ve worked closely with the WRU to identify a coach who met the ‘world class’ criteria and have spoken to a number of high quality individuals from all corners of the rugby world, who were interested in being part of the Ospreys and who presented a strong case.
“In Allen, we strongly believe we have that person, already working within the organisation. Vastly experienced, he has a passion for, and proven track record in, developing talent, and he has enjoyed success as both a player and a coach, operating at club and international level.
“The impact he has made in a short time in his role as Forwards Coach is unquestionable. He has used the last three months to showcase both his ability and rugby philosophy further and has the full backing of the playing squad. We are delighted to have him as our new Head Coach and will be looking to strengthen his support team following this appointment.”
As a player, Clarke, a qualified teacher, completed a century of appearances for Northampton Saints before returning to his home province, who he served 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.
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 was 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 ironically on the final day of the 05/06 season thanks to a 19-17 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium
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, feeding into the four Irish provinces and the senior national team.
He returned to his home province in 2012 to oversee an expanded Academy, combining it with the Scrum Coach role, taking the Forwards Coach post at KIngspan Stadium two years later.
Clarke also has experience of coaching on the international scene, taking charge of Ireland ‘A’, U20, and more recently leading Emerging Ireland to success in the 2015 Tbilisi Cup ahead of Georgia, Italy A and Uruguay.
Speaking after accepting the permanent Head Coach role at the Ospreys, Clarke said:
“When I came to the Ospreys, just 10 months ago, I didn’t foresee this situation arising. However, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being Head Coach over the last three months. The support I’ve received from all areas, from the player group, fellow coaches and colleagues behind the scenes and from the Board, together with that of the supporters has been fantastic. As such I feel both humbled and honoured by the appointment.
“There is a strong ambition at the Region which matches my own, that is, to re-establish the Ospreys at the top level, initially in the Guinness PRO14 and then Europe.
“I'm highly motivated by the challenge and look forward to working with the coaching and management team to create an environment that provides individuals with the opportunity to flourish and for us, as a team, to realise our ambitions playing a brand of rugby that enthuses players and supporters alike.”