Allen Clarke, Director of Rugby and Head Coach

Allen Clarke is an Irish Rugby Union coach and former player. He is the current Director of Rugby and Head Coach of the Seattle Seawolves of Major League Rugby (MLR).

Playing Career
During his playing career, Clarke played hooker. He was capped at the International level by Ireland, playing for the senior team eight times from 1995 to 1998, while also captaining Ireland “A” on several occasions.

Clarke spent much of his professional playing career with the Northampton Saints in England from 1993-1998, having studied at the town’s university. He also represented his native province Ulster, winning the European Cup in 1999, and captained his hometown Dungannon to the All Ireland League Championship in the 2000-01 season.

Clarke was forced to retire due to a severe ankle injury in 2001 after a number of operations.

After his retirement from playing, Clarke became part of the Ulster coaching system, establishing the province’s elite player development pathway. He was promoted to assistant coach with his former teammate Mark McCall, and served in this role during Ulster’s first League title-winning season in 2005-06. Following this success, Clarke was recruited by the IRFU as High Performance Manager, a newly created role with the directive to develop Irish players for the professional and international game. During this time with the union he also coached the Irish U20s team to the Six Nations Championship in 2010, and served as Head Coach of Ireland “A.”

Following five years in his role with the IRFU, Clarke returned to Ulster in 2012 as an assistant coach to Mark Anscombe, while also carrying out the duties of Elite Player Development Manager. Clarke continued in this role under Anscombe’s successors, Neil Doak and Les Kiss. During his second stint with Ulster, Clarke continued to coach the Ireland “A” team, winning the Tbilisi Cup in 2015.

Clarke was recruited by the Ospreys in 2017 as forwards coach under Steve Tandy. In 2018, he was appointed Head Coach following the departure of Tandy. In 2020, Clarke was announced as Director of Rugby of the Dallas Jackals of Major League Rugby. The team deferred entry to the league in 2021 due to covid, at which point Clarke was appointed consultant to the Seattle Seawolves. In 2022, the Seawolves won the Western Conference, finishing the season as runners-up to New York, and in 2023 they were defeated by San Diego in the conference final.

Clarke is renowned for his coaching philosophy of “team first, player first,” and his high level ability to build teams and coach attack and defense through “collective movement & understanding.”