BILLINGS – It’s as American as apple pie – a father throwing a football or a baseball to his son in the backyard.
But in the Davis household, the sport of choice is rugby.
“I was still playing when my son Finnigan was born,” said dad Nate Davis. “I’ve actually got a picture of him as a newborn with me stepping off the field.”
Nate started playing rugby at 18 years old after his military squad leader suggested it, and he was hooked right away. Turns out, like father, like son.
“We’ve watched it a number of times on TV,” said Nate, “and I asked him last year if he’d be interested when I found out about the Billings rugby club.”
“I think it’s helped me out a little bit, watching it on TV a lot and going to a few games,” Finnigan said about joining the Rimrock Rattlesnakes, a Billings-area high school-aged rugby club. “I can see how things work on the field a little bit better than most I feel.”
Finnigan is a month into his tenure with the Rattlesnakes, and recently played on a field most Montanans can only dream of – the turf inside Washington-Grizzly stadium. Of course, it’s a much different experience than on Fall Saturdays.
“Football is all set plays. This is ongoing,” said Finnigan. “A lot more running than most sports, and a lot less breaks.”
But that same constant flow is what Finnigan says attracted him most to the sport.
“When you get on a run and it just keeps going, it’s pretty fun,” he said.
The Davis’ are one of two families who commute from Red Lodge for Rattlesnake practice – to them, the distance was never a question.
“In Montana, you travel,” said Nate. “So for us to travel the hour from Red Lodge to Billings really isn’t too bad.”
“It’s pretty cool to meet all these different kids from around the area,” explained Finnigan. “You know, your school events, you’re just with the kids from your school. It’s cool to get to meet new kids.”
Head coach Shawn Garland says the support from Red Lodge has been exceptional, and has a pretty strong sales pitch for any others that want to join.
“This is the next way to get to the U.S. Olympics,” said Garland. “This is the most recent influence to anyone who wants to get to a podium or a stage of some sort. There’s a rugby game in everybody – all’s we need to do is try to participate. Get out here and I’ll get it out of you.”
That’s all the Davis’ needed to hear.