The Berkeley All Blues are always in the mix for a national championship, be it in the Women’s Premiere League (WPL) or in any other form of rugby competition. The All Blues are one of the national powerhouses of women’s rugby (with 16 national championships) and a alumna that reads like a who is who in women’s rugby in the USA. Remember this is a side that had three players in this summer’s Rio Olympics (Vix Folayan and Kelly Griffin for the USA and Nathalie Marchino for Colombia). Don’t forget it is also the club which supplies the national 15s and 7s players pools and national team rosters.
So for anyone who follows the All Blues (one of the two teams in the WPL from California the other the equally powerful San Diego Surfers) you have to be asking what has happened this year? The All Blues results aren’t what we’ve all been use to. This past weekend their run came to an end without them being in the post season.
We caught up with the All Blues Head Coach for the WPL side Katrina Logan to get an update on the All Blues and why we didn’t see the results we are accustomed to with this side.
The Rugby Republic (RR): Coach, the All Blues wrapped up the WLP. The All Blues didn't have the outcomes they’ve had in years past. Why?
Katrina Logan (KL): I think there are a couple of factors that go into the difficulties we've faced in this season.
We had many players get injured early in the season and even before the season started. This contributed to low numbers at practice and when you don't have the numbers; depth becomes a serious problem, especially in the WPL. Lack of depth contributes to lack of competitiveness for starting spots, which can also lead to lack of accountability. We have done our best to develop a positive culture with the players we have to encourage growth and resilience. We have tried to stay focused on our performance week to week, and have also tried to focus on achieving measurable outcomes in each game.
I like the fact that we have many new, young players. I enjoy watching them improve and learn each week, and it’s also encouraging to the club to have more youth around to foster new traditions and new ideas. With youth definitely comes a learning phase, and we are currently in that phase.
RR: Was player turnover (a lot of All Blues were part of the Eagles pool especially for Rio) and others like an Irene Gardener stepping away had a big impact the team?
KL: I think that the former ABs who did us proud at the Olympics and who continue to represent the club in the Eagles pool have done a great job to grow the game of women’s rugby for girls and women everywhere - especially in the Bay Area. I think they have taught young players that if they can dream of playing on the international stage, they can achieve it with hard work and dedication to their sport. They are incredible resources and will continue to make a lasting impact on new players who are making their own path towards achieving their rugby dreams.
RR: So how are the All Blues going about recruiting to build up its ranks?
KL: That’s a better question for our recruitment chair; I can’t really give you details.
RR: What was the plan for this season (development, rebuilding, seeking a title). Did you end up having to adjust those plans?
KL: The plan for this season was to finish in the top tier in the WPL. We have come short of that goal so yes; we have had to adjust what our objectives are week to week. It’s encouraging to me that we get to match up against some very strong teams in our division, and while we have gotten our asses kicked, we have shown some progress in different aspects of the game, for example defensively; we have improved at our realignment and launch! We still have more work to do with tackling, but we are getting better.
RR: How big or important are your former players/alumna in building back the program?
KL: Having so many champions, Olympians, Eagles, etc. does that make the All Blues "brand" more visible/attractive. I think that the women's game is changing quickly, and the All Blues will definitely need to utilize each and every alum to continue to build the club. With many young players starting in high school and playing in varsity programs in college, our club has to become more sophisticated and better resourced from top to bottom. It starts with tapping into the deep roots that Berkeley has and growing the club from there.
RR: So what were the AB looking for in the last part of the season?
KL: We looked to continue to show resilience and determination in every match and looked for some of our newer players and veterans to have some breakthrough performances as the season wrapped up.
RR: In addition to the WPL the All Blues also field a women’s 15s side in the spring and a 7s side in the summer. How do the All Blues manage so many programs?
KL: I cannot take any credit for the management of the ABs during multiple seasons. This is a better question for the club administrators.
RR: What was the biggest positive surprise this season?
KL: I think the best surprise was to see some of our newer players step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to try new things and take on roles they have never had to take on before. Their attitudes have stayed positive and the team as a whole has come together and supported each other.
We are grateful to the All Blues and Coach Logan for their time. The All Blues may be done with the WPL season for now, but they are in no way done. The All Blues still have the club 15s season this spring (which the preparation for starts now) as well as an excellent 7s program. As Coach pointed out the All Blues just happened to hit a transition year this season with a crop of experienced players experiencing injuries, influx of new players and the departure of some international level veteran players.
In the end the All Blues will be alright! They have the talent, they have the organization and the brand to continue to be one of the top clubs in the USA.
Make sure to follow the All Blues @AllBluesRugby and on IG @allbluesrugby