HELENA — The Helena Hooligans are members of the Helena Youth Rugby Club. Which have teams for both boys and girls wanting to take part in protecting the ruck.
High school rugby began in Montana in 2003 with the Simms Vigilantes being the 1st to start a program. Soon after, other towns followed the U-19 association which now consists of 7 teams, one of them being The Hooligans.
The Helena Hooligans is made up of high school students from Helena and Capital, and East Helena High School, like one of the club rugby athletes, better known as ruggers, Nathan Mohs.
"I'm glad I get to connect with these, these kids from other schools, and I'm glad to hang out with them. I don't I also try to hang out with them outside of rugby practice and outside of school," said Mohs.
If you have a good day or bad, Mohs says the hooligans will have your back.
"Even if you started out slow or if you picked it up real fast, we'd help you. And like, it's not more or less you're trying to compete against the other teams. It's like you're trying to grow and become better than you were yesterday," said Mohs.
For players, rugby can create a special bond with one another and a special bond to the game.
The coach of the youth rugby club, Cody Maykuth, was once a hooligan rugger himself.
"Being a part of the club that used to play for giving back to the club that gave you opportunities is really special to me. Um, big sense of community, big sense of family here," said Maykuth.
Some great ruggers have come out of Montana as well.
For example Nicole Heavirland, from Whitefish, MT, was an Olympian on the USA Rugby Women’s sevens team for the Toyko Olympics.
Heavirland used to watched her brother play rugby when she was younger, which sparked her excited to go out and try out the sport for herself. In her first rugby tournament, she won MVP, which shows everyone starts from somewhere, and with guidance and attention, you can learn a lot about the game.
With all the unique rules of the game, it could seem a little confusing, but Maykuth says the players and coaches will guide you through it. So when they tell you to be a "dummy runner" to know it's a role in the game, and for it to not be taken personally.
"Everything's intimidating until you do it. And most people who try it, once they show up, they never leave. There's men's clubs, there's rookie rugby, there's middle school, there's high school, there's a age group for everybody. It's very inclusive. You'll meet people that you'll never say goodbye to. It's a big family," said Maykuth.
The Hooligans, along with the rest of the Helena Youth Rugby Club, will travel to Kalispell this Saturday for a tournament weekend where they'll try and maul their way to victory. For more information on the clubs they have available to join, you can check out their Facebook page here.