Craig Clarke

Last updated

Craig Clarke
Birth nameCraig Brian James Clarke
Date of birth (1983-08-01) 1 August 1983 (age 36)
Place of birth Masterton, New Zealand
Height2.00 m (6 ft 6 12 in)
Weight114 kg (17 st 13 lb)
School Gisborne Boys' High School
University Canterbury University
SpouseVeree Clarke
Rugby union career
Position(s) Lock
Senior career
2013–2014 Connacht 14 (0)
Correct as of 5 January 2014
Provincial / State sides
Correct as of 20 October 2012
Super Rugby
Correct as of 4 August 2013
National team(s)
2009 Junior All Blacks 2 (5)
Correct as of 23 June 2009

Craig Brian James Clarke (born 1 August 1983) is a retired 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. [1] He also captained Taranaki in the ITM Cup. [2] Before his retirement he was playing for the Irish provincial team Connacht in the Pro12, and served as the team captain. [3] Clarke's ability to anticipate play and adaptability to the referee's rulings are two of his key attributes.[ citation needed ]

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, widely known simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Super Rugby rugby union competition

Super Rugby is a professional men's rugby union competition involving teams from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. Building on various Southern Hemisphere competitions dating back to the South Pacific Championship in 1986, with teams from a number of southern nations, Super Rugby started as the Super 12 in the 1996 season with 12 teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Super 12 was established by SANZAR after the sport became professional in 1995. With the top players from nations that represent 16 of the 24 top-three finishes in the history of the Rugby World Cup, the competition is widely regarded as rugby union's toughest provincial competition.


Early 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.

Wairarapa region in New Zealand

Wairarapa, is a geographical region of New Zealand. It occupies the south-eastern corner of the North Island, east of metropolitan Wellington and south-west of the Hawke's Bay region. It is lightly populated, having several rural service towns, with Masterton being the largest. It is named after its largest lake, Lake Wairarapa.

Poverty Bay bay

Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay is the largest of several small bays on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island to the north of Hawke Bay. It stretches for 10 kilometres (6 mi) from Young Nick's Head in the southwest to Tuaheni Point in the northeast. The city of Gisborne is located on the northern shore of the bay and the small settlement of Muriwai is located at the bay's southern end. The name is often used by extension to refer to the entire area surrounding the city of Gisborne. Poverty Bay is the home of the iwi Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri.

Gisborne Boys' High School is a boys' secondary school situated in Gisborne, New Zealand. It was founded as a co-educational school in 1909 as Gisborne High School. In 1956, the school became Gisborne Boys' High School when the it was split into two single-sex schools.

Professional club career

New Zealand

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.

The 2006 Air New Zealand Cup was the inaugural season of the Air New Zealand Cup, contested by teams from New Zealand. The season ran from July to October 2006. At the end of the regular season, the top team from Repechage A and B joined with teams from the Top Six who entered the quarter-finals, with the winners going through to the semi-finals. The winner of each semi-final qualified for the final, which was contested between Waikato and Wellington, with Waikato winning 37–31 to win the first Air New Zealand Cup title.

Taranaki Rugby Football Union

The Taranaki Rugby Football Union is a governing body of rugby union in the New Zealand province of Taranaki. The main stadium is Yarrow Stadium which is located in New Plymouth.

The 2007 Air New Zealand Cup was a provincial rugby union competition involving 14 teams from New Zealand. Matches started on Thursday 26 July 2007, and the Final, in which Auckland defeated Wellington, was held on Saturday 20 October.

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.

Chiefs (rugby union) rugby union team based in Hamilton, New Zealand

For the English team see Exeter Chiefs

The 2009 Super 14 season kicked off in February 2009 with pre-season matches held from mid-January. It finished on 30 May, when the Bulls won their second Super Rugby title with a decisive 61–17 victory over the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. The 2009 season was the fourth of the expansion, which led to the name change to the Super 14. The schedule, which covered 3½ months, featured a total of 94 matches, with each team playing one full round-robin against the 13 other teams, two semi-finals and a final. Every team received one bye over the 14 rounds.

Bulls (rugby union) South African rugby union team

The Bulls, for sponsorship reasons known as the Vodacom Bulls, are a South African rugby union team competing in the Super Rugby competition. They are based in Pretoria and play their home matches at Loftus Versfeld. Prior to 1998, the Bulls competed in the then-Super 12 as Northern Transvaal, as in those years South Africa was represented in the competition by its top four Currie Cup sides from the previous season, instead of the modern Super Rugby teams.

Move abroad

Clarke joined Irish provincial team Connacht in the Pro12, ahead of the 2013–14 season, having signed a three-year contract. [4] 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. [3] 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. [5]

Connacht Rugby rugby union team

Connacht Rugby is one of the four professional provincial rugby teams from the island of Ireland. Connacht competes in the Pro14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. The team represents the IRFU Connacht Branch, which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU, and is responsible for rugby union throughout the geographical Irish province of Connacht.

Pro14 annual rugby union competition

The Pro14 is an annual rugby union competition involving professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. The league is one of the three major professional leagues in Europe, the most successful European teams from which go forward to compete in the European Rugby Champions Cup, the pan-European championship which replaced the Heineken Cup after the 2013–14 season.

Edinburgh Rugby Scottish rugby union franchise

Edinburgh Rugby is one of the two professional rugby teams from Scotland. The club competes in the Pro14, along with Glasgow Warriors, its oldest rival. Edinburgh plays most of its home games at Murrayfield Stadium.

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. [6] In June of that year Clarke announced his retirement from rugby on medical advice. [7]

Saracens F.C. Professional Rugby union club in England

Saracens Football Club are an English professional rugby union team based in London, England. Established in 1876, they play in Premiership Rugby, the top level of domestic rugby union in England, where they are the reigning champions and have won the title five times. They are also the current title holders of the European Rugby Champions Cup, a tournament which they have won more times than any other English team, with three titles, won in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Since 2012, Saracens have played their home games at Allianz Park in Hendon, in the London Borough of Barnet; previous grounds have included Vicarage Road in Watford, and Bramley Road. The club's home playing colours are black and red.

International career

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.

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  1. "Craig Clarke to captain Chiefs". 13 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  2. "Who will fill Craig Clarke's boots for Taranaki?". 20 February 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Clarke asked to captain Connacht as Mafi looks forward to return from suspension". Daily Mail. 4 December 2013.
  4. "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.
  5. "Lam basks in glow of Connacht's finest hour". Irish Independent. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  6. "Connacht's Craig Clarke out 'indefinitely' after latest concussion". BBC Sport. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  7. "Connacht confirm Craig Clarke retirement after repeated concussions". The Score. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.