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Pendleton's Cody Mudget runs the ball. (Photos by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — The Columbia County Operators’ sideline steamed as Pendleton’s Nathan Boozer barreled across the tryline for the second time in the game’s first 15 minutes.

Boozer’s tries gave the Pendleton Sasquatch rugby team a 12-5 lead on the visitors from St. Helens. He was elusive, but with the kind size that helped him break tackles while charging up the field.

For the remaining 55 minutes of the match, though, the Operators turned Boozer into a ghost, limiting his success and with it, the Sasquatch scoring. Columbia County rallied for six straight tries to pull away for a 62-17 victory Saturday at Grecian Heights Park in Pendleton.


 
 
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Lincoln'a Lopeti Aisea is tackled by Pendleton's Nathan Boozer. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — The Pendleton Sasquatch Rugby Club woke from its  offseason hibernation with a return to the pitch in recent weeks. But in the squad’s first league match Saturday against Lincoln/Westside, the  Pendleton club still looked a little drowsy.

The Sasquatch fell 51-10 to the Portland-based  Lincoln/Westside in Oregon rugby’s Division Two play, an early season  game full of early season mistakes for Pendleton.

“The big thing about (Saturday) — and it’s a  really good thing about today — is we don’t have to start over with a  lot of things,” the local boys’ coach Eric Gabriel said. “Every player  had his own little victories. He also had his crap-outs, too.”

 
 
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Hilliard Bearcats' Jaime Barlow. (Photo by Kyle Robertson)
By AJ Mazzolini
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Jaime Barlow raced down the sideline with a pack of tacklers in pursuit. Barlow felt the players nearing him, shifted the oblong ball in his hands and hucked it sideways to a teammate and out of harm's way.

The pass was just in time, as the pursuers pulled the back down to the grass. Barlow lifted himself off the turf at Ohio State's Beekman Park and chased after the play.

It may sound like more football at Ohio State, but Barlow was playing high-school rugby with the Hilliard Bearcats, and rugby sevens for that matter, unavailable to high-schoolers in Ohio until just recently.

Six teams from central Ohio converged on Beekman Park yesterday to conclude the first high-school rugby sevens tournament in the state.

"All the college guys are saying how much they wanted (rugby sevens) when they were in high school," said Barlow, a recent convert to rugby who will soon be a senior at Upper Arlington. "It's definitely fast paced."

 
 
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UM rugby player Ben Johnson passes the ball during practice.
UM rugby preps for week of games out west

After a pair of early season losses, the University of Montana Jesters will leave town on a week-long tour down the West Coast that starts Saturday in Spokane for the 20th anniversary of Fools Fest.

The Jesters, UM's club rugby team, will be one of several Montana Rugby Union teams appearing at the event. Fools Fest games are usually shorter than a standard 80-minute rugby match, said Jester Andy Trujillo, and that's OK since the whole day will be filled with rugby.

But Spokane is just the first stop in a gauntlet of games for the Jesters, with short stays scheduled in Seattle, Wash., Portland and Eugene, Ore., San Francisco, and Palo Alto, Calif. The results from all the matches slated for spring break week won't have an impact on the Jesters' league record of 0–2, Trujillo said, but they do have a purpose.

"We're going to get out there and get a bunch of rugby in our bellies," said Trujillo, a junior on the team who plays flanker, a forward, all-around position on the field. "In rugby, you can only learn so much in practice; you really learn it by being in it. You have a core group of guys on tour and they grow together."