Building Greatness from the Inside Out

A Short Interview with Head Coach Theo Bennett

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

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

As the All Blues begin the 2017 WPL season, we are excited to welcome new head coach Theo Bennett. Hailing from New Zealand originally, Theo has coached in several countries including New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Kenya, and of course the US. The thing that has stayed consistent since the beginning of his career in 1994 however is the desire to build organizations that foster continuous player development and sustainable pathways towards greatness.

Theo started his career as a player in the wings, but his coaches quickly realized that his rugby mind and athletic potential demanded a leadership role. Step by step he moved inward until he became a flyhalf. His playing career was cut short by an injury before he had reached his full potential. The University he was playing for (on scholarship) had already invested a great deal of time and effort developing Theo into the player he was. Rather than giving up on his playing career Theo pivoted away from the inward journey of developing himself as a player and towards the outward journey of coaching others at the young age of 21. Since then his life has been dedicated to spreading the game of rugby, fostering and mentoring young players, and developing organizations that can lead to the continued growth of the global game.

One might think that the best coaching engagements might be the ones where individual and team glory was achieved. Rugby players are all fundamentally competitive individuals seeking to achieve personal and collective greatness through team sports. After over 20 years of coaching, Theo has seen a broad cross section of the global rugby community. When asked about his favorite coaching engagements throughout this long career he did not pinpoint the team that had the most wins, or the team that had the most epic sports-movie comeback. Instead he points to the teams which had the greatest people.

“It all depends on the people. Any geographical location is someplace you can love or hate based on whether or not you feel welcome or feel good. [...] Wherever the team is that I feel most comfortable is where I love coaching. It’s all about the people.”

It is no secret that the All Blues are one of the the most decorated women’s rugby clubs in the nation. Over its almost 40 year history the club has accumulated numerous national championships and produced a plethora of international caliber players. But like so much else these days, the way that women’s club rugby is played in the US is changing fast. The game is changing and the All Blues must change with it. In order to build the club outwards, the club must first look inwards to get to the core of who the All Blues are.

“We need to find out where we are invested. Not financially, but emotionally. Who drives that?”

We must reassess what is that the All Blues represent and get down to the foundation of what we has always made this club great. Namely: the people. Theo Bennett is poised to work through this process and build greatness from the inside out.

Authored by Dot Mittow

Match Report: All Blues Triumph Over ORSU Jesters to Secure Top Tier Spot in Nationals

by Dorothy Mittow

MORAGA, CA - This weekend the All Blues took on ORSU in their final home match of the season, and this one was for all the marbles. With the second seed from the blue division and an upper division nationals both on the line, both teams showed up ready to fight a physical match, but at the end of the day the home team was able to come out on top.

The first half was played almost entirely inside the 22-meter lines, with much of the yardage on both teams coming from dramatic 30+ meter runs. All Blues eight Sarah Walsh had a big break through the middle of the ORSU defensive line, making several tacklers miss through shear force.  Her run put the All Blues in perfect position for lock Allie Byrne to pound it in for the opening try of the match. ORSU was quick to respond with a forwards’ try of their own from a ruck within the five meter line.

Just as the match was heating up, All Blues winger Ardia Kelker collided with an ORSU player while attempting to steal a wayward pass and sustained a bad cut on her ear. Kelker was taken out for a blood substitution, but returned with a new hairstyle and a renewed desire to dominate her opposition. After the All Blues pack delivered great field position with a 30m maul off of a line-out, the bandaged Kelker burned several ORSU backs down the sideline to bring the score to 12-5. After one more ORSU try off an overload, Kelker responded with her second try of the match. The last try of the half was contributed by veteran All Blue Phoebe Boone, bringing the score to 22-10.

We see you, forwards!  Photo by Laura Lorenz

ORSU was not going to let the All Blues run away with this match however, and came out of the break looking like the fresher and more determined squad. What had been a game played close to both teams’ goal lines during the first half turned into an exhausting defensive stand for the All Blues near mid-field. For several minutes the team struggled to cope with the fast-paced offload game that made the ORSU offense look like a well-oiled machine. After several phases the defensive line broke down and a few exceptional ORSU players were able to touch down two tries.

Thanks to the laser-accurate open field kicking of flyhalf Ruth Bryson as well as ferocious tackling on the inside by All Blues hooker Jack Woods, the All Blues began to solve the defensive puzzle that ORSU presented. While ORSU’s solid ball handling and rucking was able to starve the All Blues of much of the time of possession in the second half, wingers Kelker and Jessica Turner made sure that the few All Blues possessions were all converted into points. Fresh energy from front row subs Maxine Fonua and Emily Peinert hardened the interior defense for the All Blues and stopped ORSU from getting into the try zone for the rest of the match.

Flyhalf Ruth Bryson setting up for a kick.  Photo by Laura Lorenz.

By the time the final whistle blew, the score was 34-25 with the All Blues on top. This hard fought yet methodical victory showcased the composure of a team ready to compete on both sides of the ball. With a roster full of both young talent and veteran leadership, the All Blues look poised to claim yet another national championship in Glendale this November.  

Logan named Head Coach of the All Blues

by Katy Augustyn

BERKELEY, Ca. – Former All Blues player Katrina Logan has been hired as head coach of the All Blues for the 2015 Women’s Premiere League (WPL) season.

Logan has 16 years combined playing and coaching experience.  She started her playing career with Stanford University Women’s Rugby Club.  While at Stanford she represented both the U-23 Pacific Coast Grizzlies and the U-23 National Team.

“I am very grateful and excited for the opportunity to coach the All Blues this season,” Logan said. 

Upon graduation, Logan played for several Bay Area teams, including the Berkeley All Blues in 2009 and 2013.  She also competed for the Pacific Coast Grizzlies Senior 15s and 7s select sides. 

In 2009, Logan was named an assistant coach at her alma mater.  The Stanford Cardinal had an impressive run during her tenure, finishing within the top four in the nation six times.  Logan was also an assistant coach at the Stanford University Eagle Training Center (ETC) and was Co-Head Coach of the Pacific Mountain North All-Star Team in 2014.

“I look forward to driving success by developing a competitive environment in the club and by pushing players to think more critically about the game and their development,” Logan said.  “I know that good results don't come easy in the WPL and I am prepared to rise to the challenge.” 

The All Blues kick off the WPL season with an away game against the Oregon Sport Union, in Portland, Oregon on September 12th.  Their first home game will be on September 20th against the San Diego Surfers.  

All Blues new Head Coach, Katrina "Bisquit" Logan.                             Picture credit: Sydney Provan

All Blues new Head Coach, Katrina "Bisquit" Logan.                             Picture credit: Sydney Provan