Although the first college rugby match was played between Harvard and McGill University on May 14, 1874, it only began to take off in the late 1960s. Currently, there are over 900 college rugby teams. Most of these are not “Varsity Sports”, meaning they do not form part of the universities’ official sports programs. However, the number of Varsity teams is increasing, with many new colleges offering scholarships. In fact, rugby is the fastest-growing college sport in the USA!
Some notable alumni who played college rugby include Nate Ebner, three-time Super Bowl-winning New England Patriot; Madison Hughes and Danny Barrett, US Sevens players; and Gerhardt de Beer, former Affies prop and current NFL offensive lineman.
The NCAA does not govern college rugby; it is instead overseen by USA Rugby. It is played at Division IA, Division I-AA, Division II, and National Small College Rugby level. Due to this, scholarships are offered in a slightly different way to other NCAA sports. USA Rugby does not place a cap on how many scholarships each team can provide, which means that the funding can be issued at a university’s sole discretion.
The American rugby community has built a passionate following with an esteemed college history. Many high-profile universities have deeply entrenched rugby traditions; for example, Dartmouth boasts one of the strongest teams in college history.
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