Theo Bennett to Lead the All Blues into the 2017 WPL Season

We are excited to announce that we have offered the position of head coach to Theo Bennett for the upcoming fall WPL season.  Theo has been coaching rugby around the world since 1994, starting in his home country of New Zealand. His diversity of experience has had him coach both men and women, both 15s and 7s, and he has also developed other coaches throughout his career. He speaks English and Portuguese, and is also a competition athlete of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His current work has him stationed in Brazil where he is the head coach and founder of Atena Women’s Rugby Seven’s club that serves to create pathways for local players to the Brazilian National Team. He also serves as a rugby consultant for the US Air Force men’s team, for which he travels to the US and coaches them in the days leading up to tournaments.  Notably, while coaching in Australia, he successfully coached a struggling team back from a 30+ game losing streak to the top four in their division.

Theo Bennett. Image courtesy of http://pioneiro.clicrbs.com.br/

Theo Bennett. Image courtesy of http://pioneiro.clicrbs.com.br/

Through the coach selections committee’s conversations with Theo, we have seen his genuine enthusiasm for building a strong community both for our team and for himself in the Bay Area and in supporting the All Blues’ team culture and performance.  Theo wrote that, “after talking to Allie [Byrne] and Lisa [Dombroski] briefly, we established that there is a needed long-term plan and philosophy for rebuilding a foundation of sustainable rugby quality, and player and coach development.”  This is in line with our club’s refocused goal of player development, which we started in earnest in the past D2 spring season.  Theo sees his role as “a builder of communities,” figuring out how one can fit people into a place where they feel appreciated and belong, and at the same time “guiding the objectives of all stakeholders, so that we are productive in our rugby culture and have sustainability of positive outcomes.”

Theo talking to the forwards during a recent 7s practice in Bayport Park, Alameda.  Photo: Evan Hoese

Theo talking to the forwards during a recent 7s practice in Bayport Park, Alameda.  Photo: Evan Hoese

The executive board believes Theo’s plans of helping build our community and our players’ confidence through training will be key in elevating the All Blues in the WPL and strengthening our Olympic pathway.  He is currently visiting the area to get a feel for our team culture and begin planning the upcoming WPL season.  He has been very enthusiastic in supporting our 7s players, as well as our team fundraising activities for SF Pride.  Catch him while he’s in town until July 3rd!  We look forward to having him start his official role at the start of the WPL season, which begins in mid-August!

CPC Player Profile (June 2017): Cathy Cai

From last month's featured player, Elvi Figueroa: "I recommended [Cathy] because she's very strong and determined. She's made more key tackles than I can count and is always there for her teammates. She doesn't hesitate when it comes to offense or defense. Plus she's a very positive and happy person on and off the field!"

 

Full Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Cathy Cai

Hometown: San Francisco
Position(s) played: flanker, inside center

All Blues since: 2016

Photo: Travis Prior

Photo: Travis Prior

AB: How did you find out about us (i.e. what/who got you to come to your first AB practice?)

CC: I played for Cal Women’s Rugby, so naturally I heard of the Berkeley All Blues. They are sister teams, right?

 

AB: When and how did you first start playing rugby?  What got you into it?

CC: I started playing rugby my senior year of college. During my freshman year, a floor mate tried to recruit me to play for Cal. I had a lot of misconceptions about the sport and culture. I was hesitant to join, but playing rugby was something that constantly stayed at the back on my mind. Finally, I gave it a shot my senior year of college and haven’t looked back. It was helpful to find a friend that agreed to go to the first practice with me.

 

AB: Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?  How do you get into “the zone”?

CC: My mindset when I go to practice is to have fun. I understand there are times when I need to focus and listen to my coaches/teammates, but for the most part I try to laugh as much as possible. We have some of the best coaches so I have the privilege of learning a lot about the game of rugby while also playing with some of the most athletic and amazing teammates.

I don’t really get into the “zone” for rugby. If I think too much before games, I become nervous and get tunnel vision. Something that helps me prepare for rugby games is to stay relaxed and nonchalant. I occasionally will listen to indie folk before games to keep my nerves down.
 

AB: What is your best memory, thus far, as an All Blue?  What do you like most about being on this team?

CC: Sevens nationals last year was my favorite weekend with the team. We played as a team and held our own. I also loved celebrating at the end of the tournament because I was able to see some crazy sides to my teammates. I love the social aspect of the team most. We go onto the pitch and get what we need to get done, done. But the best part is coming together after a tournament to socialize and celebrate.

Photo: Travis Prior

Photo: Travis Prior

AB: Is there a particular player and/or coach that have influenced your development as a player? In what way(s) did they help you?

CC: Evan Hoese [edit: current All Blue; 2017 spring season coach] has really helped me improve my knowledge of the game. She does an excellent job translating her knowledge to less experienced players. Every time I have a question, she clearly and concisely answers it.

Something that was particularly constructive was to have a one-on-one conversation right after our games. The game was still fresh on our minds and it was extremely helpful to ask any questions that may have arisen, answered.

 

AB: What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?

CC: If you start conditioning during the season, you are already too late. Staying in mental and physical shape starts before the season begins. This is something that I struggle with because everyone on my team knows I hate to condition. I have learned that finding friends to do conditioning with is the best way to stay motivated.

 

AB: Who’s your favorite rugby player/team to watch?

CC: I wouldn’t say I particularly have a favorite rugby team. I love watching Women 7’s rugby in general. I am excited anytime this sport gets any exposure. However, if you were twisting my arm and said I had to choose a team, I would have to choose the Black Ferns. They play some of the most dynamic and consistent rugby.

Photo: Vic Abrenica

Photo: Vic Abrenica

AB: What is your favorite non-rugby activity?

CC: I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do this but I love to travel. One country I hope to travel to in the future is New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country with a strong rugby culture. 

 

AB: Did you use to play any sports previously?

CC: In the past, sports that I have competed in are basketball, volleyball, track and field, and Olympic weightlifting.

 

AB: Anything else you’d like to share with us? 

CC: Besides rugby, I am passionate about address health disparities in minority populations. I am fortunate enough to work at UCSF on cancer disparity research that focuses on closing the disparity gap in communities with low socioeconomic status. 

 

Jack Baird Returns to Lead the All Blues Summer 7s Program

We are excited to announce that Jack Baird will be returning as head coach for our 7s team this summer, with Irene Gardner and Lucy Croy as assistant coaches.  Hailing from England, Jack is currently the Director of Rugby at King's College School, Cambridge. Jack is also the head coach of Cambridge University Women's, and has worked as an assessment coach for the England Women's Squad. Both Irene and Lucy are All Blues alumnae who have competed at some of the highest levels of rugby in the United States. 

Jack's back as Head Coach for summer 7s! 

Jack's back as Head Coach for summer 7s! 

Jack’s first year coaching the All Blues was last summer.  In the post-season interviews he was commended for his ability to coach players regardless of skill level, adapting his coaching style to each person’s needs so they can thrive on the field.  Cathy Cai, who walked into the team not ever having played sevens before and with only 8 months of rugby at Cal under her belt, says, “I could see my personal development throughout the season. I remember knowing nothing and being in the wrong places during my first game, to working as a team and beating Life West in the playoffs.” Part of Jack’s success was paying special attention to each player and giving individual feedback after each tournament.  According to Meeko Luarca, another player who joined the All Blues just last summer from Cal, “he really made an effort to get to know and sit down with everyone which was pretty cool for me.” 

Jack, alongside assistant coach Sarah Davis, were instrumental in developing a young sevens team last year that was mostly composed of college players Sarah recruited from Cal and some tight fivers.  Together, they brought the team to compete at the 7's National Championship, with the team finishing within the top 8 in the nation.  According to Meeko, Jack would "give us the goal and how to get there and [Sarah] would give us tips to either actually achieve the goal of the drill or smooth out our efforts and 'get some swagger in there'." One of the ways in which Jack engaged the players during training was by including plenty of game-like drills. Says Meeko, “[Jack] liked changing aspects of drills which kept my mind engaged i.e. touch game, one side is continuously on offense and between reps he'd ask a different focus on playing style: more aggressive in disrupting the rucks, in the launch, or go for a poach from the defense and all the off loads, hard strike lines with a cut, or fast rucks from the offense.”

Last year's summer sevens squad show off their bear claws after a victorious 4th qualifier match vs. Life West. Photo credit: Vic Abrenica

Last year's summer sevens squad show off their bear claws after a victorious 4th qualifier match vs. Life West.

Photo credit: Vic Abrenica

Meeko and Cathy are excited to see Jack grow in confidence as a coach for the All Blues sevens squad. “With a consecutive year,” predicts Meeko, “he will probably come through with more confidence or understanding of who we are and maybe won't let Frieda mess with him as much or at least make it a two way street.” Cathy is hopeful that he will come back to build on the fundamentals he’s worked on with the team, and “[transform the basics] into creative play on the field.” Together with Irene and Lucy, both seasoned veterans of the game, we’re excited for what this season will bring, too!  

 

Important Dates for 2017 Summer 7s

More information will be coming soon, but please put these dates down on your calendar!

 

May 16 - 7's first practice! 7pm @ Gabe Catalfo Fields

June 17 - NCRFU Tournament @ TBD

July 8 - NorCal Club 7s Qualifier Tournament 1 @ Silicon Valley

July 15 - NorCal Club 7s Qualifier Tournament 2 @ SFGG

July 29 - CR1 Club 7s National Qualifier Tournament @ Tacoma, WA

Aug 12/13 - National Club 7s Championship @ Blaine, MN 

CPC Player Profile (May 2017): Elvira "Elvi" Figueroa

Name: Elvira "Elvi" Figueroa

Hometown: Richmond, CA
Position(s) played: Flanker/Hooker

All Blues since: 2017

Elvi Figueroa / Flanker, Hooker 

Elvi Figueroa / Flanker, Hooker 

●      How did you find out about us (i.e. what/who got you to come to your first AB practice?) 

I first wanted to join a women's football team but it was too far away so I looked up local football and rugby teams and found you guys!

 

●      When and how did you first start playing rugby?  What got you into it? 

I started playing in 2014 at CSU Monterey Bay when the team was just starting out. I have played sports all my life and was constantly fouling out of basketball so I needed a sport I could be more physical in.

 

●      Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby?  How do you get into “the zone”?

My mindset is always on how am I going to help my team win, what is my job and how am I going to accomplish this. I listen to music a lot before warm up and that gets me pumped up. I love playing either EDM or Alternative music, especially right before a game!

 

●      What is your best memory, thus far, as an All Blue?  What do you like most about being on this team?

There are so many memories from socials to games but my favorite memory was my first try of my career as an All Blue. It was an indescribable feeling!

Can you feel the excitement?!? Elvi on a typical Rugby Saturday.

Can you feel the excitement?!? Elvi on a typical Rugby Saturday.

●      Is there a particular player and/or coach that have influenced your development as a player?  In what way(s) did they help you?

My first coach actually plays for SJ [the San Jose Seahawks]. Coach Leni taught me my basics years ago and really got me into rugby.

 

●      What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?

The best advice I ever received was to keep moving my feet and to keep going forward. That’s really helped me especially as a smaller forward.

 

Misc.

●      What is your favorite non-rugby activity?

I have a ton of hobbies but I love going to raves and making costumes for them!

●      Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I'm really into anime and manga... I'm a huge nerd and have a bunch of subscriptions.

2017 7s Season Information

All Blues 7s Head Coach Jack Baird

All Blues 7s Head Coach Jack Baird

The summer 7's season is fast approaching! We are lucky enough to have our wonderful 7's coach from last summer coming back to us, Jack Baird. Hailing from England, he is currently the Director of Rugby at King's College School, Cambridge. Jack is also the head coach of Cambridge University women's, and has worked as an assessment coach for England Women's Squad. Last year, he was an instrumental part of helping our team compete at the 7's National Championship. We are also lucky to be joined by Irene Gardner and Lucy Croy as assistant coaches. Both Irene and Lucy are All Blues alumnae who have competed at some of the highest levels of rugby in the United States.

7s is a great introduction to both the sport and the team, and we love new players! College players in town for the summer are also definitely welcome. If you are interested in joining us this year, please email jointheallblues@gmail.com or fill out our website contact form.

Important Dates

More information will be coming soon, but the following dates have already been confirmed.

  • May 11 - 7's Informational and Kickoff Meeting at the blue barn at 7:30 pm at Gabe Catalfo Fields
  • May 16 - 7's first practice! at 7pm at  Gabe Catalfo Fields
  • June 17 - NCRFU Tournament @ tbc
  • July 8 - NorCal Club 7s Qualifier Tournament 1 @ Silicon Valley
  • July 15 - NorCal Club 7s Qualifier Tournament 2 @ SFGG
  • July 29 - CR1 Club 7s National Qualifier Tournament @ Tacoma, WA
  • Aug 12/13 - National Club 7s Championship @ Blaine, MN