Craig Brian James Clarke (born rugby union player from New Zealand. He played as a lock during his career, winning two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs where he served as captain. He also captained Taranaki in the ITM Cup. Before his retirement he was playing for the Irish provincial team Connacht in the Pro12, and served as the team captain. Clarke's ability to anticipate play and adaptability to the referee's rulings are two of his key attributes.1 August 1983) is a retired
|Birth name||Craig Brian James Clarke|
|Date of birth||1 August 1983|
|Place of birth||Masterton, New Zealand|
|Height||2.00 m (6 ft 6 1⁄2 in)|
|Weight||114 kg (17 st 13 lb)|
|School||Gisborne Boys' High School|
|Rugby union career|
Born in the Wairarapa, Clarke grew up in Poverty Bay, where he attended Gisborne Boys' High School. He had originally moved to Canterbury on a scholarship to the Canterbury Rugby Union and to Canterbury University to study geology. He made his debut for Canterbury in a Ranfurly Shield match against Marlborough.
Professional club careerEdit
During Clarke's domestic career he has reached the quarter-finals of New Zealand's National Provincial Championship on three occasions, once with Canterbury in the 2006 season, and twice with Taranaki in their 2007 and 2008 campaigns. He has also played in two semi-finals, again with Canterbury and Taranaki in 2005 and 2012 respectively, but has never played in a final. He became a Crusaders Wider Training Group member in 2005, making his Super 12 debut against the Reds, he went on to gain two more caps later that year. In 2007 he again made the Crusaders Wider Training Group which only prompted a move to the Hurricanes. Clarke was capped 13 times for the Hurricanes in 2008, including seven starts at lock.
Clarke was drafted to the Chiefs for the 2009 season, and was of their most consistent performers towards the Super 14 final against the Bulls. In the final, however, the Chiefs were beaten convincingly, with a final score of 61–17. He then re-signed with the Chiefs in 2010 and 2011, with the team finishing both years in tenth place. In the 2012 season, Clarke was co-captain of the side as the team won its first ever title, beating the Sharks 37–6 in the final. The following season Clarke led the team to another final, this time facing the Brumbies. The Chiefs became the 4th Super Rugby franchise to record back to back title wins, when they bet the Australian side 27–22, with this being Clarke's final game for the team.
Clarke joined Irish provincial team Connacht in the Pro12, ahead of the 2013–14 season, having signed a three-year contract. With Connacht bottom of the Pro 12 after a poor run of form, which culminated in a 43–10 defeat against Edinburgh, Clarke was made Connacht's team captain. He captained the team in one of their greatest ever victories as they beat four time European champions Toulouse away in the Stade Ernest-Wallon, in the Heineken Cup pool stages.
Clarke's first season with Connacht was ended prematurely when he was forced to take a break from the game indefinitely, due to concerns for his health after he suffered his tenth concussion in less than two years in a Heineken Cup match with Saracens on 18 January 2014. In June of that year Clarke announced his retirement from rugby on medical advice.
Clarke was part of New Zealand's under-age international set up. Clarke was involved in the New Zealand under 19 team when they won the Under 19 Rugby World Championship that took place in Italy in 2002, beating the French U19s in the final. He was also part of the Under 21s in 2004, when they won the Under 21 Rugby World Championship in Scotland, this time beating Ireland in the final.
In 2009, Clarke was called up to play for New Zealand's secondary international side, the Junior All Blacks. Although Clarke, then aged 26, had played only sixteen matches for the Crusaders and Hurricanes, the Junior All Black coaches selected him as cover for Bryn Evans for the Pacific Nations Cup. Clarke's international test debut came against Samoa at Apia Park on 12 June 2009, when he replaced Tom Donnelly after 56 minutes. He was named to start in the next match against Japan, where on his first start, Clarke scored a try before half-time in a 52–21 victory.
- "Craig Clarke to captain Chiefs". 13 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Who will fill Craig Clarke's boots for Taranaki?". 20 February 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- "Clarke asked to captain Connacht as Mafi looks forward to return from suspension". Daily Mail. 4 December 2013.
- "Connacht sign second row Craig Clarke". Connacht Rugby. Connacht Rugby. 18 February 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "Lam basks in glow of Connacht's finest hour". Irish Independent. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- "Connacht's Craig Clarke out 'indefinitely' after latest concussion". BBC Sport. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Connacht confirm Craig Clarke retirement after repeated concussions". The Score. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.