Limerick Rugby
Don't Miss

Ulster and Scarlets step up their preparations

By the Editor

FORMER Ulster and Ireland hooker, Allen Clarke, has been confirmed as the province’s new forwards coach for the 2014/15 season.

Clarke has been successful as both a player and a coach. He won eight international caps and was a key member of the Ulster team that won the European Cup in 1999.

Following his retirement from playing due to injury he moved into coaching and established the Ulster Rugby Academy.

He was appointed assistant coach to Mark McCall and helped guide Ulster to the Magners League title in 2006 .

The following season he left Ulster to take up a position as High Performance Manager with the IRFU and was responsible for helping to build Irish Rugby’s age grade structure and developing young players, many of whom have gone on to become Ireland internationals.

Following a successful five years, Clarke returned to his native province in 2012 as Elite Performance Manager.

He has further developed the Academy and has expanded the scale and scope of the province’s age grade programme.

Clarke, who is renowned for his work rate, his attention to detail and his knowledge of forward play, has also coached at international level – coaching Ireland A and more recently the Emerging Ireland team in 2013 IRB Tbilisi Cup.

He will continue to oversee the Elite Performance Pathway and Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy in his new role.

Commenting on his new position, Clarke said:

“I’m immensely passionate and proud to be involved with my home province once again, and look forward to supporting the coaching team and players to be the best we can be. The player movement in the pack has been well documented, however, the players that we have brought in together with those already here have shown a real focus in training and respect for work.

He added: “Continuing strategic support in Ulster’s Elite Performance Pathway is important and I know that the progress made over the past two years will continue to grow under the guidance and expertise of our Academy coaching team – Kieran Campbell, Brian McLaughlin, James Topping, Michael Black, David Drake, Matt Maguire, Amy Davis, Matthew Godfrey and David Minion.”

SCARLETS secured a 26 all draw against Bath Rugby at the Rec on Saturday 16th August in the first friendly of the pre-season with the West Wales region fielding two sides in the Rag Doll fixture.

In what was a first game in charge for new Head Coach Wayne Pivac it was an opportunity to see the wider squad in action after an intense pre-season training period.

First half captain Rob McCusker took advantage of a quick tap and go penalty and got the Scarlets’ first points of the afternoon just on the stroke of half time.

McCusker said: “I just had to run it in really! We tried a couple of patterns we’ve been working on and it was good to see them bear some fruit after weeks of practicing.

“We’ve always been comfortable in attack, that’s the way we play; switching from attack to defence is what we’ve been working on and tweaking a few things in defence. We run moves against each other in training but you know what’s coming so it was good to get a hit out, it gave us a chance to put things together.”

Scarlets will take on Gloucester at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday 30th August ahead of the first competitive game of the Guinness PRO12 season against Ulster and McCusker is fully aware of the work that lies ahead, he went on to say; “We know that we’re all on trial here. We don’t just want to win our game we want to win our places for the season. There’s no chance of the boys switching off because we want to be involved from Ulster onwards.

“We’ve got a good mix of carriers and ball players and line out forwards which makes it difficult now. I’m worried, we’re all worried – nothing’s guaranteed and it’s driving us forward and it can only be good for the team.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login