Sports

Dylan Bell started out playing tennis for the University of Montana as a walk-on. When that didn't pan out, he jumped at the opportunity to play rugby.

Five years later, the University of Montana Jesters rugby team has become home. 

"On our team, we have a family atmosphere," Bell said. "We care for each individual and we want each team member to grow individually." 

Bell and the Jesters had their first chance to grow in a season-opening victory against the Montana State Bobcats this past weekend. 

Coming into Friday's match, there were many unknowns, as they had lost several veteran players this fall to the local men's team, the Maggots. Last Friday was the first time both seasoned and new players competed together in a game.

The match was held in the Washington-Grizzly stadium, with 150 fans in attendance. University of Montana junior Lucas Hillman said it was one of the biggest crowds for a Jesters game. 

In the opening minutes, the Jesters made a few mistakes. Hillman said the team had some knock-off balls and miscommunication. 

But the Jesters scored seven points on a try, and continued to grind throughout the game.  

With eight minutes left, MSU attempted to score extra points on its try. The ball missed the crossbars, and the Jesters held onto a 7-5 victory.    

Hillman said Friday's match was a good learning experience for the young team. 

"I just want our team to get that continuity back and be the hard-playing team that we are," Hillman said. "A lot of people can't compete with our hard-nose style of playing." 

The Jesters are vying for a third consecutive Montana State Union Rugby Championship this season. Their next game in Missoula is a league match against the Bozeman Cutthroats April 11.  


alexandria.valdez@umontana.edu 

@avaldez