A Short Interview with Head Coach Theo Bennett
Authored by Dot Mittow
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.