The Ospreys have appointed former European Cup winner Allen Clarke as their forwards coach for next season when Chris Gibbes heads home to New Zealand.
The former Ulster, Northampton Saints and Ireland hooker will join the Welsh region from PRO12 rivals Ulster, where he has enjoyed success as both player and coach over a period of 20 years. He set up the Ulster Rugby Academy and also spent five-years as Irish Rugby's High Performance Manager.
Clarke played in the Ulster side that became the first Irish province to win the European Cup in 1999, clinching the title with victory over Colomiers at the old Lansdowne Road. He won eight caps for Ireland.
"I'm delighted to have this opportunity and really excited about the next challenge in my career. Why the Ospreys? What's impressed me is the people," said Clarke.
"Many organisations will have values and I get the sense that the people at the Ospreys really do believe and live their values. That creates a good environment to work in, a culture that I'm looking forward to being part of.
"It's an ambitious organisation, with a great mix of experience and some real talent coming through, and I hope that I can add value, for the players, the coaches and the management. Chris Gibbes has done a great job in building a pack that has the potential to go toe-to-toe with anyone and I'm grateful to have that platform to work from when I arrive in the summer.
"Ulster, and Irish rugby, has been my life for such a long time, but I'm excited and highly motivated about joining the Ospreys and making the move to the region."
The Ospreys are in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals and currently sit two places, and seven points, ahead of Ulster in the PRO12 table. Clarke will be doing all he can to plot the downfall of his new employers between now and the end of the season, including a vital trip to the Liberty Stadium on the last weekend of April for the penultimate round of matches.
In 2004 he was appointed as assistant coach to Mark McCall, helping the province to a first Celtic League title. Ironically, that title was secured by a 79th minute drop goal from David Humphreys to clinch a 19-17 victory over the Ospreys.
"After Chris Gibbes advised us of his intentions to move on at the end of the season we made it a priority to identify and recruit a highly respected coach of the calibre needed to continue, and build on, Gibbo's excellent work. We've definitely achieved that with the appointment of Allen Clarke," said Ospreys managing director, Andrew Millward.
"He's renowned for his energy, his meticulous preparation and his knowledge of the set-piece area. Combine that with a proven track record in, and passion for, player development, and you've got someone whose own approach sits comfortably within our values as an organisation."