Pontypool RFC is pleased to announce the appointment of Rhys Clarke to the club’s coaching team as skills coach, ahead of preparations for the forthcoming league campaign.
The 30-year-old second row joined Pooler for the 2019-2020 season after spending the previous eight seasons with Ebbw Vale RFC. Clarke made over 150 appearances for the WRU Indigo Premiership side and played a leading role in helping the Eugene Cross Park club secure its most recent league winning triumph in 2016.
Clarke rapidly established himself as a leader within Pooler’s ranks during a season in which the club looked set to finally achieve promotion back to the Premiership division before the COVID-19 pandemic saw the season declared null and void.
During the lockdown period that followed, Clarke was diagnosed with epilepsy, which unfortunately brought a stellar playing career to a premature end. However, the leadership qualities displayed in his short time with the club convinced Pooler’s head coach, Leighton Jones, that it was time to expand his coaching setup.
“We’re really pleased to have secured Rhys’ future at the club and he will make a quality addition to our backroom staff,” said Jones. “Rhys’ knowledge of the game and vast experience in the Premiership paid huge dividends for us last season and his influence – both on and off the field – made a big impact on us.
“Whilst we’re disappointed for Rhys that his playing career finished a bit sooner than planned, we are really excited to see him progress within our coaching unit and we know he will bring an extra dimension to the team and we will see the benefits of this as we prepare to return to rugby.”
Clarke - who will join a well-established coaching setup consisting of the aforementioned Jones, Tom Hancock (backs coach), Andrew Quick (defence coach), Rhys Dyer (head of performance) and Gareth Rusby-Davies (team manager) – is relishing the opportunity to take this next step in his rugby career.
On taking on the role, he said “Unfortunately due to being diagnosed with epilepsy, my playing career has drawn to an unexpected early retirement from the game as a player.
“Although this has been extremely difficult to accept, I am very pleased to have been invited to continue in a coaching role at Pontypool RFC, where I felt I wanted my playing career to end in several years to come.