Allen Clarke confirmed as permanent Ospreys head coach

Allen Clarke
Capped eight times by Ireland, Clarke was a key player in Ulster's 1999 Heineken Cup title

Ospreys interim head coach Allen Clarke will take over the role permanently after signing a three-year deal.

The former Ireland hooker joined the region as forwards coach last summer, and took charge in January following the departure of Steve Tandy.

Clarke said he felt "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," he said.

Clarke's appointment means there will be no Welsh head coach at any of the four regions next season.

Fellow Irishman Bernard Jackman, New Zealander Wayne Pivac and Australian John Mulvihill will be in charge of the Dragons, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues respectively.

Clarke's promotion means there will be a new forwards coach at the Liberty Stadium, with the region's former back-rower Filo Tiatia believed to be under consideration.

Steve Tandy (centre) with Ospreys backroom staff Gruff Rees and Allen Clarke
Clarke (right) was part of Steve Tandy's backroom staff with Gruff Rees (left)

Ospreys have had a disappointing season, but can still qualify for the top-tier European Champions Cup in 2018-19 via a play-off next month.

They parted company with Tandy after just four wins from 13 games in the Pro14 and after being knocked out of Europe. He had been due to stay in charge until 2020.

Since Clarke took the reins, Ospreys have won four of their seven Pro14 games, with Saturday's Judgement Day derby against Cardiff Blues their last league fixture.

Clarke said: "When I came to the Ospreys, just 10 months ago, I didn't foresee this situation arising.

"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."

Analysis

Former Ospreys and Wales wing Shane Williams:

"He's obviously done a very good job since he's taken over.

"They've had a couple of good results, yes they've lost a couple of games and the result at the weekend wasn't the best, but the players have obviously reacted to him.

"They seem to have a shape about them again, which they definitely didn't have at the start of the season and the players have reacted well, so he's obviously respected.

"Having spoken to some of the players, they like him as a guy, he's got a good personality, and it looks like he was the easy choice in the end.

"The Ospreys have obviously been holding out for some time, so it's good that they have their man eventually."

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