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International Rugby Coach


Born in Port Elizabeth South Africa, Wesley Clarke came to New Zealand on his own as a 19 year old because he loved rugby, and wanted to go on an adventure.

He has worked his way through various sport and rugby roles (sports co-ordinator, rugby development officer, professional rugby analyst, team manager, assistant coach) to being an international rugby coach with the Black Ferns for 8 years culminating in his 2nd World Cup win at the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup (played in 2022).

In the Women’s game Wesley Clarke started his coaching career with the Auckland Marist women’s rugby team in 2002 and went on to coach both the Auckland Storm (2016) and the Manawatu Cyclones (2009 and 2013). He also coached the Manawatu Women’s 7’ team to a National 7’s title after reaching their second consecutive final (2015-2016). Wesley joined the Black Ferns coaching team in 2015 and was an integral part of their 5th Women’s Rugby World Cup win in 2017 as their lineout, defence and forwards play specialist coach. In 2018, Wesley was employed as assistant coach/Talent Identification Manager for the Black Ferns. This was the first time a fulltime staff member was employed for the Black Ferns. Between 2015 and 2022 the Black Ferns won every tournament they played in with the exception only of the post-covid tour to England and France. In 2022, Wesley won his 2nd World Cup with the Black Ferns in front of a noisy crowd in a packed out Eden Park.

In the Men’s game Wesley coached Feilding High school to two consecutive National Co-ed finals, winning the National Co-ed title in 2016. He also coached the team to the final of the National Condor 7’s tournament. He was the Assistant coach for the Manawatu Turbos (2011-2013) when they reached the Championship final of the Mitre 10 Cup, and prior to that was a Regional Coach Development Manager for New Zealand Rugby. Wesley’s commitment and excellence in coaching was acknowledged when he won the Manawatu Coach of the Year 2 years in a row (2016-2017). Wesley is married to Farah and they have 2 beautiful children, Cody (11) and Paige (8).

“I have learnt so much about facing adversity and striving to be better through my tough upbringing in challenging circumstances in South Africa, to winning World Cups. I love sharing what I learnt through the years from some of the best coaches and players in the world. This includes, bringing teams together, high performance habits, reaching goals, connecting in groups, collective leadership and culture change. I am often asked to speak about the success of the 2022 World cup campaign and what steps we took to turn our team around after the 2021 end of year tour. I also speak on subjects like collective leadership, culture change “.

We were fortunate enough to have Wes Clarke facilitate at our recent Staff Only Day. Our focus was on Whakawhanaungatanga. This Maori value of creating connectedness and relationships recognises that a person’s identity comes from their connection with other people and places, rather than from what they do as individuals. Wes used his experiences through life and Rugby to highlight that we are so much more than isolated individuals. He was able to draw parallels between Rugby coaching and teaching and he shared some of the ways that he believed connections can develop a positive rewarding culture. Staff were encouraged to think about their practice and how strong and honest connections can improve their teaching and their students learning. Wes’ presentations were inclusive, thought provoking and practical, he was able to convey the core theme of connections in an engaging and fun way. Working with Wes as we prepared for the staff only day at Lindisfarne College, I found him to be undeniably hard working. He plans and prepares himself thoroughly as a facilitator, and takes pride in engaging and involving all participants, effectively, and without fuss. His engagement with staff was collaborative and supportive and he made them feel included and valued while giving them some strategies to try out but also challenging them to grow personally and professionally. Staff continue to talk about the session that Wes took which is testimony to his engagement with them. I have no hesitation in recommending him. Lindisfarne College
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