Flathead Valley High School Rugby Teams Sweep State Titles

Black and Blue club successfully defends boys state championship; girls capture first title

The Flathead Valley Black and Blue rugby program has a sudden dilemma: it needs somewhere to store its growing collection of trophies.

Last weekend in Kalispell the growing program captured three separate championships: one for high school boys and girls and another for middle school boys.

“It felt fantastic. It was a great weekend,” head coach Lance Heavirland said.

The Black and Blue boys team successfully defended its state title in dominating fashion and capped a perfect 8-0 season. Playing at the fields at Glacier High School May 12-13, the boys defeated Missoula 29-7 in the state semifinal round. Five separate players scored a try for the Black and Blue: Hunter Rauthe, Daniel Long, Jacques Eve, Matt Gash-Gilder and Garett Rieke.

In the championship match against North Idaho, the Black and Blue rolled to a 57-10 victory. Hunter Wellcome scored three times, Rauthe scored twice along with Sam Mann, and Eve and Paxton Boyce each scored once.

“North Idaho came out right away and score quicjly. They’re an aggressive unit. Our boys had to buckle down after that and not get down on themselves. And they did,” Heavirland said.

“I’m really proud of the way they came out at halftime.”

In the girls state tournament, Flathead Valley defeated Missoula 17-0 in the semifinal round. Megan Rieke, Clara Vandenbosch and Payge Boyce each scored for the Black and Blue.

The local squad clashed with three-time defending champ Bitterroot in the title match and rose to the occasion. Boyce and Sheena St. Onge scored for the Black and Blue as the defense held off the powerful Bitterroot attack.

The victory marked the first title for the Black and Blue girls program, which is in its first year as a program after one previous season in 2011.

“All of these girls, it was their first year and they had never touched a ball until winter,” Heavirland said. “They had no doubt in their mind that they were going to come out on top.”

The middle-school boys team also came out victorious, 33-0 over Helena, to secure a sweep for the local program in front of an impressive crowd.

“The support from the community was amazing and really appreciated by the whole staff and club,” Heavirland said.