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!


Rugby Montana Gear Available

Help us celebrate becoming a State Rugby Organization (SRO) with USA Rugby!

This is an amazing opportunity to get Under Armour gear at a low discounted price and support Team Montana!

10% of all purchases will be going to help Team Montana compete regionally!

The store will be open from February 1 through February 28.

Follow the links below and get ready to hit the pitch in style!

The apparel link has great quality shirts, pants, rain gear and much more!

The accessories link has cleats, shoes, and bags!



2017 Spring Registration is OPEN for all Montana teams

The 2016-2017 Montana Youth Rugby Registration is now available.  To be a team in compliance with USA Rugby, each player must register through our new Sports Engine registration portal.  Select the JOIN UP Tab to register.

Coaches and referees need to register directly through USA Rugby.  All new teams need to contact the Montana Youth Rugby Administrator

Review the requirements for registration and then click on the links to register for the open programs.

This registration covers:  High School Boys & High School Girls and Middle School Boys & Middle School Girls – Grades 6, 7 & 8.

IMPORTANT!  Please read the information for registration on the JOIN UP tab PRIOR to registering.

With our secure, online registration system, you will:

  • Complete required registration information and submit payments
  • Items needed to register:  Player Identification:  Accepted items are a driver’s license, State identification card or school id. Medical Insurance & Physician Information.  If no official ID photo is available, a clear headshot with no obstructions may be used.
  • Electronically sign required liability forms and waivers

*Note: Not all clubs are collecting dues directly through the state registration site.  Please follow up with your coach or club administrator for team specific dues and season kick off meetings.

Upcoming Training for 2017

Montana Youth Rugby & Montana Rugby Referee Society

are pleased to offer the following courses for Spring 2017

STRENGTH & CONDITIONING – clinic will be held Sunday March 12 in Missoula  

World Rugby Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Course Presented by USA Rugby

This World Rugby certification course is for coaches, referees, administrators, parents, players, and others who are involved with rugby. The aim of the course is for participants to develop a foundational understanding of Rugby specific Strength and Conditioning.

For coaches registered with USA Rugby, this course will be worth 10 Professional Development Credits towards an active certification in the 2016-17 membership cycle.

Level 200 Coaching – CLINIC WILL BE HELD Saturday March 11 IN MISSOULA 

All contact teams require an active Level 200 Coach to be in compliance with USA Rugby.

The Level 200 Coach Certification consists of online pre-course work and attendance at an in-person clinic. The course structure helps to blend the “how to coach” theory with the practical implementation of coaching Rugby.

The Level 200 Coach Certification focuses on player welfare and teaching players the technical skills to play safely. The assessment requires coaches to demonstrate effective coaching techniques. These techniques include teaching through games, technical skill development through progressions and collaborative coaching.

LEVEL 300 COACHING – CLINIC WILL BE HELD Saturday March 11 & Sunday March 12 in Missoula 

The Level 300 Coaching Certification is the next step in the American Rugby Model (ARM). The certification progresses towards advanced coaching skills used in athlete development and program building.

The Level 300 Course consists of a two-day certification clinic and successful completion of the home study tasks.

The object of the certification is for coaches to increase their ability to coach technical skills to achieve strategic and tactical outcomes. Coaches will be able to use the coaching process, key factor analysis and functional role analysis to achieve specific short and medium term goals for their teams.

REFEREE – clinic will be held Saturday March 18 in Missoula 


The purpose of this introductory course is to enable officials to acquire basic skills to officiate safe, enjoyable competition. Course certification is required for anyone who wishes to referee any match in Montana.  Players, parents, coaches and volunteers and encouraged to get involved as referees!