Head Coach & Director of Rugby
Clarke has over 30 years of rugby experience with a proven track record as a player, coach and providing high performance pathways. He won eight International caps for Ireland, played over 100 games for Northampton Saints and was a key member of the Ulster team that won the European Cup in 1999.
“I’m delighted to be appointed Director of Rugby for the Dallas Jackals. When I spoke with Phil Camm and Elaine Vassie, I was impressed with the club’s vision, their plans for the development of rugby in the area and their personal integrity,” said Clarke.
Growing up in Dungannon, Ireland, Clarke was first introduced to the game at the age of eleven at Royal School Dungannon. Seven years later, he gained his first International honors for Ireland U18s, and then represented Ireland U21s two years later. Focusing on his rugby career after college, Clarke played for Northampton Saints in England and Ulster, his home province. During this time, he earned his first senior International cap in 1995.
After retiring from playing, Clarke transitioned into coaching. In 2001 he was named Director of Elite Player Development for Ulster, establishing Ulster’s first academy program. Clarke was then named Senior Assistant Coach in 2004 and guided Ulster to a first Celtic League title in 2006.
In 2007, Clarke was appointed High Performance Manager for the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) overseeing a talent pathway which would develop players for the professional game and International XV. His coaching abilities are recognized internationally for the development of a number of Ireland players. He is renowned for his great knowledge, love of the game, work ethic, and embodiment of the core values of rugby.
Following a successful five years with the IRFU, Clarke returned to his native province as Director of Elite Player Development. There he further expanded the scale and success of the province’s age grade programs before being appointed Assistant Coach in 2014. Clarke was then named Ospreys Forwards Coach in 2017 with a subsequent promotion to Head Coach. He led the Ospreys to a number one ranking in Wales and a qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup.
Rory Best, Clarke’s former player, said, “throughout my career I had many different coaches, but Allen Clarke helped me succeed as a professional rugby player. What sets Clarkie apart is his ability to identify and develop young players, then his attention to detail and an unparalleled appetite for work to continue their development into their professional playing career. Clarkie will never settle for anything less than his best and instills his work ethic and drive into whoever he works with.”
At an international level, Clarke has been Head Coach for Ireland U20s, Ireland A and Emerging Ireland; leading the Emerging Ireland team to victory in the 2015 Tbilisi Cup. The draw of an international opportunity in the U.S. led Clarke to his position as the first Head Coach & Director of Rugby for the Dallas Jackals.
“After an extensive search, we are proud to have attracted and secured a Director of Rugby of Allen’s caliber. Development of domestic talent is a key priority for the Dallas Jackals. Allen’s passion and expertise in this area coupled with his elite level coaching made him the standout candidate for us.” — Phil Camm, GM of the Jackals
This role will combine his elite level of coaching experience with the opportunity to create high performance pathways. Passionate about the growth of domestic talent, Clarke said, “Rugby is a growing sport in America,” and, “the quality of the MLR is improving at a rapid rate each year.”
Clarke continued, “I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the culture of Texas, building connections with the community and playing my part in the growth of rugby in Dallas. We have a lot of work to do, but everybody is determined to work tirelessly to achieve success on and off the field.”
We are proud to welcome Allen Clarke, his wife Kerry and their two children Ariane & Alexander to the pack!