The first ever game of “Rugby” Football, played in the USA, took place in
1869 between Princeton and Rutgers. The now world famous match used a mix of rules taken from both rugby and soccer. Inspired by the famous first match, in 1876 Harvard, Yale and Columbia joined with Princeton to form the Intercollegiate Football Association and played under the official Rugby Union rules first established in England in 1871. Rugby was then played at Princeton, Yale and Harvard for a number of years, until Walter Camp from Yale introduced radical rule changes, which created the game of American Football now played across the USA.

Rugby officially resumed at Princeton in 1931 under the leadership of Monte Barak, Hugh Sloan, H.F. Langenberg, and coach John Boardman Whitton. The initial season began on Saturday, April 4, 1931, with a 6 – 3 victory over Harvard in the Harvard Football Stadium (Read original newspaper clipping about the game). Over 5,000 people attended this inaugural game. The Men’s rugby club has been actively playing ever since. The club competes in the Ivy League. Princeton won the Ivy League Championship in 2004, 1979, 1973, 1971, and 1969. The team also qualified for the Sweet 16 USA Rugby playoffs in 2000 and 2014.

Princeton University Women’s Rugby Football Club was established in 1979 by Catherine Chute. The new team aspired to compete in the young world of U.S. women’s rugby, which was established only eight years earlier when four women’s teams emerged in 1972. Since then, the sport has grown quickly across America and Princeton women have continually played at the top levels of Division I competition.

Princeton Women’s rugby won back-to-back national championships in 1995 and 1996 and advanced to the Final Four in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005.  More than 35 Princeton women have been named All-Americans in rugby. In 2011, 2012, and 2018, the women placed 3rd in the USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships.

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Quick Facts:

  • PURFC Ivy League Champions in 2004, 1979, 1973, 1971, and 1969.
  • PUWRFC National Championships in 1995 and 1996.
  • PUWRFC advanced to the Final Four in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005.
  • 35 Princeton women have been named All-Americans.