Belfast Telegraph

Ospreys to show Clarke the door after Champions Cup collapse

 

Dismissed: Allen Clarke
Dismissed: Allen Clarke

By Steffan Thomas

The Ospreys are set to part ways with head coach Allen Clarke in the wake of their record 44-3 Heineken Champions Cup defeat at Saracens last weekend.

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The Welsh region travelled to Allianz Park with 15 players out injured and conceded six tries as they slumped to a seventh defeat in eight outings this season.

Before last weekend's game, Ulsterman Clarke referred to difficulties everyone at the club was having, writing in his pre-match notes: "Some of our youngsters are on a steep learning curve. All of us at the Ospreys are."

The former Ulster and Ireland hooker took over as interim coach when Steve Tandy was sacked in January in 2018, before taking over permanently on a three-year deal three months later. Last season the Ospreys were the highest ranked Welsh region and the only ones to qualify for the Champions Cup.

But this campaign has been a car crash from the start with the season opening with a 38-14 defeat to Clarke's old side Ulster in Belfast in the Guinness PRO14. Their only victory to date came against Benetton Treviso, 24-20, on October 12.

Since then they have lost five in a row and are already more or less out of the running for a Champions Cup quarter-final slot after conceding 10 tries in back-to-back defeats to Munster and Saracens. Next month they face Racing 92 home and away.

The Ospreys provided nine players to Warren Gatland's Rugby World Cup squad in Japan, including skipper Alun Wyn Jones.

Clarke has found himself without the services of Jones and George North on the back of injuries sustained in Japan, while summer signing Gareth Anscombe has been ruled out for the season after undergoing surgery on a knee injury picked up during a World Cup warm-up match.

There will be six Ospreys on duty with Wales for Wayne Pivac's first game in charge for the uncapped game against a Gatland coached Barbarians team on Saturday - the same day the regional side hosts the high-flying Cheetahs at The Gnoll.

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