2018 National Development Summit

Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge!

Open to all rugby levels:  Coaches, administrators, referees, players, etc.

This event has something for everyone.  Looking to take a group?

Contact us at mtyouthrugby@gmail.com for possible discounts before you register!

Training with the Eagles!

Rugby Montana is excited to work with USA Rugby and Atavus for the USA Rugby Academy Training Camp on September 9th and 10th.  The camp provides opportunities for both players and coaches to increase their game knowledge and enhance their skills.  All players age 14 and up are welcome to spend the weekend learning from some of the best in the country.                              

Montana favorite Martin Iosefo will be joined by fellow USA Rugby Eagle Shalom Suniula, and USA College All American Coaches JD Stephenson (Men’s) and Martha Daines (Women’s).


Rookie Rugby and Shape Montana!

‘Tis that time of year to start gearing up for Back to School!  Rugby Montana had the privilege of sharing the benefits of Rookie Rugby with the participants of Shape Montana.  We look forward to new programs in P.E. classes across the state!

For participants of the Shape Montana conference make sure to get signed up in August to register to win one of TWO full Rookie Rugby Start up Kits!   The Kits include 2 rugby balls, instructional manuals and lesson plans, skill cards, and a set of 20 flags!  Everything you need to hit the ground running this fall with your own rugby program!  Sign up below to get registered!

For those of you who were unable to attend or who are interested in learning more about the Rookie Rugby program and how it could benefit your school or community, sign up today for more information!

Rookie Rugby is designed to give young players a fun, safe, and enjoyable sporting experience. The rules are simple, the game is easy to learn and minimal equipment is needed!  Check out more information at www.RookieRugby.com and get signed up with Rugby Montana today for one on one help starting your own program, discounted pricing on equipment, possible grant funding, and more!

Rookie Rugby can be found in:
  • Physical Education Classes
  • After-School Programs
  • Recreational Leagues
  • Community Based Programs
  • Camps, Clinics, Showcases
  • Summer Camps

What is Rookie Rugby?

  • Rookie Rugby is the non-contact version of rugby developed for schools and communities
  • Flags or two hand touch may be used
  • All players will run, pass, and score
  • For boys and girls of all ages
  • Play is free-flowing and continuous

Rookie Rugby vs. Rugby


  • Object is to score a ‘try’
  • Active and aerobic
  • Basic skills, running, passing, catching, and evasion

Differences –

  • Non-contact
  • Focused on teaching basics
  • No kicking
  • Played on any surface or field size

Playing Rookie Rugby

  • Rookie Rugby can be played in any indoor or outdoor open space
  • Age and ability determines field size and duration of playing time
  • Rookie Rugby is played between two teams of equal size, generally between five and ten players to a team
  • Boys and girls play by the same rules
  • Game can use flags or tags so little to no contact is made between players

Why Rookie Rugby?

Athlete Benefits

  • Emphasis on continuous activity
  • Promotes health and wellness
  • Teaches respect for self and others
  • Enhances motor skill development
  • All ages and genders can participate
  • Encourages good sportsmanship
  • Unique, easy to learn, and safe
  • Fun!

Why Rookie Rugby?

Program Benefits

  • Extremely low cost
  • Easy to implement
  • Minimal equipment needs
  • Instructional support available
  • Game can be tailored to meet
    program needs
  • Creates connections to a global

2017 Year to Date Recap & Upcoming Opportunities

As our 2017 Spring season has come to a close, I wanted to say Thank You to all of our players and parents for an amazing season.  None of this would be possible without your support and dedication!

We have come a long way this year as an organization.  While mother nature provided a challenge to kick off the season, we got things moving as the snow melted and had a fantastic spring season.  While we will continue to have growing pains, we have seen great successes along the way!

  • 133 new high school players
  • 36 new middle school players
  • 10 new coaches
  • 3 new referees
  • Montana’s first USA Rugby Level 300 coaching clinic
  • New programs starting in Bozeman
  • New programs starting in Lincoln County
  • Expanded area to include Spokane, Washington in addition to our clubs in Post Falls, Idaho
  • 3 successful spring tournaments – Jack Riekena Memorial 7’s, State, & MYRA Fest
  • Team Montana traveled again to Oregon for the GNC, while it was a boys only show this year, the players did fantastic. The Varsity Boys went 1-2-1, JV Boys 1-3, and Middle School 2-2

Administratively we made huge leaps for the long term benefit of our organization.

  • Rugby Montana created as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
  • Updated Website and increased social media presence
  • Rugby Montana YouTube page
  • Sports Engine Online Registration

Upcoming Opportunities:

  • Big Sky State Games 7’s Rugby Tournament for Middle School & High School, July 15th in Missoula. Teams can register at bigskygames.org  and individual players should notify their coaches or contact Misty at mtyouthrugby@gmail.com to get signed up.  The fee is $15 per player or $150 per team of 10.
  • Referee clinics will be held in late summer/early fall for any interested parents or players. (this is a great opportunity to expand your game knowledge and earn a few $$ spending money).  Sign up for more information at – https://form.jotform.us/71778432912159
  • Atavus Training Academy September 9-10 at Montana State University. Information available at https://rugby.atavus.com/shop/usa-rugby-academy-training-camp-montana/
  • Fall 7’s league for interested programs will start September 23rd with 3-4 tournaments throughout the State.

For those continuing onto the next journey, good luck and stay in touch.  For those returning families and players we will see you very soon!


Misty Zahn, Rugby Montana Administrator

Montana Players off to the Regional Challenge Tournament

Representative players from clubs across Montana, Northern Idaho and the Spokane Valley will be traveling west to Corvallis, Oregon to compete in the Great Northwest Challenge.   The Regional Challenge Tournament (RCT) is one of 5 tournaments nationally that showcase the top players  from each region for college recruiters, USA Rugby High School All-American (HSAA) selectors, and is the beginning path to the Youth Olympic Games.

Players have been meeting for weekend practices since May getting ready for this opportunity.   Recent years have seen players getting selected for college rugby programs and the HSAA program.

Teams in the tournament travel from Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, California, Montana & Oregon to compete.

We wish all of our players, coaches, volunteers, and referees the best of luck this weekend!

A huge thank you to all the coaches who helped prepare the players for the weekend and parents for their support throughout the season!


Flathead’s Gash-Gilder Signs with Endicott College

Gash-Gilder with Lance Heavirland – Head Coach of the Flathead Black & Blue (left) and Dave Kenkel – Head Coach of Endicott College Men’s Rugby (right)

May 16, 2017 (Kalispell, Montana) –  Rugby Montana and the Flathead Valley Youth Rugby Club are pleased to announce that Senior Matthew Gash-Gilder has signed with Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.  Matthew was able to make it official on Saturday in Kalispell as Endicott College Head Coach Dave Kenkel was in town to check out the state tournament.  Kenkel is a former coach for the Flathead Valley Youth Rugby Club.

Matthew has been accepted into the art program and has additional interests to pursue journalism.

Matthew has been a leader for the Black & Blue for the last three years, helping bring his team to back to back State Championships in 2016 and 2017.  Additionally, Matthew has been an integral team member for the Montana Selects team.  We wish him the best of luck and look forward to following his future achievements on and off the rugby pitch.

Olympic Rugby 7’s joins the Big Sky State Games

Rugby Montana joins the Big Sky State Games!


Olympic Rugby 7’s has been accepted into the Big Sky State Games of Montana. The Big Sky State Games are an Olympic-style amateur sports festival for people of all ages and abilities who reside in the great state of Montana. The Games are a member of the National Congress of State Games and recognized by the United States Olympic Committee.

This is a great step for our organization to work with such a highly respected and popular program in Montana.  The Big Sky State Games rank number one in the nation in per capita participation.

Olympic Rugby 7’s will be held in Missoula, Montana on July 15th.  The first year will highlight High School Girls, High School Boys, and Middle School Boys.  In upcoming years we plan to expand to include youth non-contact competitions.

Registration is open to all Montana clubs and clubs in neighboring states.  To register a team for competition please sign up at:   https://bigskygames.org/sports/rugby/


Team Montana – Camp Tryouts

April 22nd – Missoula  – 9AM – 4PM

Team Montana camp tryouts are open to all Rugby Montana High School Boys and Girls and Middle School boys in grades 7 and 8.  Plays must be in good standing with Rugby Montana to attend the camp.  

The camp goal is to identify players who will represent Rugby Montana at the Regional Cup Tournament in June. Players will participate in a series of skill tests to be evaluated by Team Montana coaches.

Selected players will be notified by coaches following the clinic and invited to the first training camp for Team Montana in May.  

Camp fee is $20 per player.  

Players can register to participate in the camp at:  https://form.jotform.us/70985908512162

Team Montana Guidelines

Calendar of Events:

4/22/2017 Tryouts Missoula
5/20/2017 Practice Helena
6/10/2017 Tentative Test Match Spokane
6/17/2017 Practice Missoula
6-22 to 6-26 Tournament Corvallis, OR


Riekena in the Tropicana 7’s Tournament











Photo Courtesy of Atavus Rugby

MISSOULA, MONTANA (April 6, 2017) – Rugby Montana is proud to announce that Julia Riekena,  Junior at Big Sky High School and a member of the Missoula Valley Vixens High School Rugby team will be representing the USA April 9th – April 15th with the USA Rugby Girls High School All-American’s (GHSAA).

Julia will be participating in the All-American Tropical 7’s Tour at the Omni Orlando Championsgate Resort.  This is an international tournament for youth and collegiate teams to play competitive Olympic-style rugby 7’s with elite teams from the USA and around the world.

Julia participates regularly with Atavus Rugby and will be helping out later this year when we hope to host Atavus in Montana for a High Performance Camp!

Congratulations & Good Luck



A Mix of Community Awareness, Sportsmanship, & Fun

The 4th Annual Jack Riekena Memorial 7’s Tournament for Suicide Awareness was held yesterday in Missoula, Montana at the Washington Grizzly Stadium on the University of Montana campus.  This annual event was started by the Riekena family to help families across the state be able to recognize the signs of suicide and promote suicide awareness.  The tournament is organized as a High School Senior project and was run this year by Jake Riekena and Brady Clawson, Big Sky High School students and rugby players for the Missoula Mud Dogs. Approximately 45 local community businesses and organizations helped sponsor the event this year. Additionally, Atavus Rugby and Olympic Rugby 7’s Player Shalom Suniula donated an autographed jersey to the event to help with fundraising.

This year the boys chose to team up with Project Tomorrow Montana a local program dedicated to suicide prevention and education.  Follow this link to find out more information on Project Tomorrow Montana and make sure to share their contact information for anyone who may need someone to talk to about thoughts of suicide.  Together we can all make a difference.

Project Tomorrow Montana

Need confidential help now? Call for support:
National Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
Help via Text Message: Text “mt” to 741-741

Seventeen (17) teams made the trek to Missoula with players from Washington, Idaho, and all across the state of Montana.  Divisions of play consisted of Middle School (Grades 6-8), High School Girls, and High School Boys (A & B Division).  Some players were veterans to the tournament while other players and teams were experiencing their first game of the year.  The great part of rugby is that several of the teams yesterday had a mixture of players from other teams jump in and help fill out numbers.  The culture we promote was on display in great form as opponents became teammates and helped each other out even if it meant playing against their “regular” team in the process.  The report from all at the end of the event was one of sportsmanship and community.  New friends were made and old friendships rekindled both on and off the pitch.

Event organizers, University of Montana Athletic Trainers, and the University of Montana event staff helped provide a well organized program. The Montana Rugby Referee Society referees were patient with all the new players and provided guidance to both players on the field and parents and spectators in the stands helping all understand the game and promote a safe and competitive environment.  While not all teams could be named tournament champions at the end of the day, all participants played hard and had a great day of rugby, learning, and community!