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."
Trujillo said the difference is usually apparent. The flanker, or "human meat missile" as he referred to himself, is one of the most senior members of the team with just two full seasons of experience. By contrast, a lot of the men they play have been in the sport for more than a decade.