New Ospreys Chief Allen Clarke Admits Job Was Never On His Mind

Allen Clarke has been confirmed as the Ospreys’ new permanent head coach – a move first revealed by Dai Sport on April 6.

Clarke has been rewarded for his impressive short spell as interim head coach by being handed a three-year contract at the Liberty Stadium.

The Northern Irishman took over at the Swansea-based region in January after Steve Tandy was sacked in what most considered would be a temporary role, while other candidates were considered.

But the hugely experienced Clarke steadied the ship, turned around results, and impressed the Ospreys’ directors sufficiently to be rewarded with a fresh long-term deal.

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.

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“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.”

Ospreys managing director Andrew Millward said: “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.

Andrew Millward. Pic: Getty Images.

“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.

In 2004 he was appointed as assistant coach to Mark McCall, helping the province to a first ever Celtic League title.

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.

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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.


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