Princeton Rugby

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Princeton University RFC
Princeton University RFC Logo
Full name Princeton University Rugby Football Club
Union USA Rugby
Nickname(s) Tigers
Founded 1876
Location Princeton, New Jersey
Ground(s) West Windsor Fields
Director of Rugby Richard Lopacki
League(s) Ivy League
1st kit
2nd kit
3rd kit
Official website

The Princeton University Rugby Football Club (or PURFC) competes in the Ivy League in Division I-AA of USA Rugby's intercollegiate competition.


Men's team

Princeton Rugby Team, 1932.

The men's team was first established in 1876 when Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia met at the Massasoit House in Massachusetts and formed the Intercollegiate Football Association, which used the rugby code. This makes it one of the oldest rugby clubs in North America.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

After an interruption (the rules laid out by the Intercollegiate Football Association began to deviate dramatically from Union rules after 1893),[7] the club was reorganized in 1931 under the leadership of Monte Barak, Hugh Sloan H.F. Langenberg, and coach John Boardman Whitton. It has been playing continuously ever since.[8] Over 5,000 people attended the inaugural Harvard - Princeton game in 1931.[9]

The club competes in the Ivy League. The PURFC won the Ivy League Championship in 2004, 1979, 1973, 1971, and 1969.[10] The team also qualified for the Division I-AA Sweet 16 in 2014.[11] The men's coach and Director of Rugby at Princeton is Richard Lopacki.

Women's team

Princeton University Women's Rugby Football Club (PUWRFC), is the women's rugby union club of Princeton. PUWRFC 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 by the creation of four women's teams in 1972. Since then, the sport has grown quickly across America and PUWRFC has continually found itself at the top levels of Division I competition. Currently, the Princeton women compete in Division I of the Ivy League. PUWRFC is coached by Christopher Ryan and Peter Kelly.

PUWRFC won back-to-back national championships in 1995 and 1996.[12][13] Princeton women advanced to the Final Four in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005. Throughout the team's history, PUWRFC has often won the MARFU Championship, the Ivy League Tournament, and has secured several bids to the Sweet Sixteen. More than 35 Princeton women have been named All-Americans, many of whom have received honors for multiple years.[14] In 2011 and 2012, the women placed 3rd in the USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships.[15]

In the first year of regular season Ivy League play, the Princeton women won the 2013 Ivy League Championships.

The Women have also seen success with their rugby sevens squad, winning the shield final at the USA Rugby College 7s National Championship.[16]


Princeton v. Yale @ Rickerson Field, 9/10/09.

West Windsor Fields

Princeton Rugby has its club house, two game fields, two practice fields and a scrummage machine located at West Windsor Fields. The pitches are across Lake Carnegie and are accessible from campus by a stone footbridge. The fields are also accessible by car from Washington Road. Princeton University’s West Windsor fields were the site of a week-long USA Rugby Collegiate All-Star selection camp in 2009.

Princeton plays its home games on Rickerson Field located at West Windsor Fields. The field is named after Stu Rickerson, Class of 1971, and his Princeton varsity soccer playing spouse, Nancy Jones Rickerson, Class of 1987.[17]

Opened in 2013, Princeton Rugby has a home in Haaga House located at West Windsor Fields. Haaga House was named after alumnus Paul G. Haaga, Jr. following a donation to build the clubhouse. It includes Men's and Women's team rooms, visiting team changing rooms, bathroom facilities, storage rooms, and a large gathering space for events and spectators. Princeton is one of the few universities in America to have a dedicated rugby facility.[18][19]

The Dickey-Larrimer Rugby Porch

The porch at the Princeton eating club, Tiger Inn, has been named the "The Dickey-Larrimer Rugby Porch" in honor of Will Dickey, 68' and Terry Larrimer, 69', two former Princeton Rugby Captains. The porch also has a permanent installation called the "Rugby Wall" that lists all previous men's and women's Rugby Captains on bronze plaques. The rugby club holds gatherings on the porch, such as post-game socials and alumni events, and utilizes the Inn's boardroom for executive meetings.[20][21]

Cups and competitions

Ivy League regular season

The first Ivy League Rugby Championship was played in 1969 and won by Princeton.[22] In 2009, the men joined a newly established Ivy Rugby Conference that was formed to foster better competition among rugby teams from the Ivy League schools and to raise the quality of play.[23] Ivy Rugby formed committees to manage the league independently of the Territorial Area Unions.[23] The Ivy Rugby Conference, and specifically its sevens tournament, has enabled the Ivy schools to tap into existing rivalries and fan bases.[24] The women began a full season of Ivy League play in the fall of 2011.[25]

Ivy Rugby 7s Championship

In addition to their traditional 15-a-side rugby union teams, the men and women each field a rugby sevens squad. Every year Princeton and the other Ivy Conference teams compete for the Ivy Rugby 7s Championship.[26] The winner of the Ivy Championship qualifies for the College 7s National Championship.[27]

The Koranda Cup

The Yale vs. Princeton rugby rivalry has strong historic roots dating back to the 1870s. The first game between the schools in the modern era occurred in 1931, which resulted in a Princeton win.[28] In 2002, after many years of not playing Yale regularly, Princeton decided to re-establish the tradition and challenge Yale to an annual match each spring. The following year, Yale accepted Princeton's request by creating a trophy in memory of Rob Koranda.[29] Rob died in a Chicago porch collapse in June 2003, a tragedy that claimed 12 other young lives.

New Jersey State Championship

The New Jersey State Intercollegiate Championship is hosted at West Windsor Fields every spring. The sport of rugby has been played in New Jersey for more than 135 years, yet it has only been since 2007 that the colleges of The Garden State have competed for the intercollegiate state championship.[30] It is a knock-out tournament for the 1st and 2nd XV Men's rugby sides from every college in New Jersey. The tournament includes the selection of an All-New Jersey XV and MVP. Participants have included Drew, Fairleigh Dickinson, Montclair, NJIT, Princeton, Rowan, Rutgers, Seton Hall, TCNJ, and William Patterson.

Since the 2010 tournament, the players have helped raise awareness and call for more research funding for pancreatic cancer organizations. This intercollegiate rugby initiative has raised over $140,000 for The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.[31]

The winner of The New Jersey State Intercollegiate Championship is awarded "The Rickerson Cup." The trophy is named for Princeton alumnus Stuart Rickerson, for his 40 plus years of support for the sport of rugby in New Jersey.

Rickerson Cup
Year Champion Score Runner Up
2015 Princeton 80-5 Seton Hall
2014 Rowan 38-31 Rutgers
2013 Princeton 17-6 Rowan
2012 Princeton 33-0 William Patterson
2011 Princeton 36-0 William Patterson
2010 Princeton 10-3 William Patterson
2009 Princeton 63-5 Seton Hall
2008 Rutgers 22-12 Princeton
2007 Princeton 60-3 Seton Hall

Other competitions

The Doc Whitton Cup is contested annually between current undergraduate players and returning alumni during reunions. The first match was played in 1970 and has been played every year since.[32]

Princeton competed in and won a number of times the now defunct Bermuda Intercollegiate Cup.[33] The competition was held during Bermuda Rugby Week from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Cup was offered by the Bermuda Trade Development Board but was dropped in 1958 because of complaints about off-pitch behavior.[34]


Rob Koranda MVP Award:
Princeton Men's Rugby Most Valuable Player Award, granted annually.

Phil Rogers' 79 Memorial Prize:
A winner will be recognized annually for his or her unique leadership and sportsmanship qualities, both on and off the rugby field.[35] These qualities are well captured in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “IF”. They include courage, tenacity, composure, action and fairness. It is against these criteria that each candidate is be measured.

Chris Mello Award:
Given annually to the Men's player who best demonstrates loyalty to the team on and off the field.

Harry Langenberg Award:
Awarded for outstanding dedication and service to the Princeton Rugby Football Club.

International tours

Princeton Rugby goes on tour each spring. Past tours have included travel to Bermuda,[36] England, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina,[37] Ireland,[38] Barbados,[39] and the Cayman Islands.[40] These tours have often resulted in wins over the local National XV.

Princeton Rugby, along with the Harvard and Yale Rugby teams, began the tradition of U.S. college students going on Spring Break to the Caribbean.[41][42]

In 1940, the team traveled over spring break to Nassau and played before the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.[43]

Alumni Tours, where former players travel abroad to compete and reconnect with their teammates, have been popular events since Princeton Rugby's early days. Recently, the "Flying Tigers" have had great success, beating the Curaçao, BVI, and USVI National Teams in 2013.[44] In 2010, the alumni players visited Martinique with similar success.[45]

Individual accomplishments

More than 35 Princeton women have been named All-Americans. Below is an incomplete list.

  • Jessica Lu, Class of 2018[46]
  • Dorothy Mittow, Class of 2014[47]
  • Lauren Rhode, Class of 2012[48]

Notable people

In art and popular culture

  • Elegant Violence – Photography by Amy Elkins exploring masculine identity featuring Princeton Rugby players.[49]
  • The Princeton Rugby Guy – Novella by David Kennedy Polanco.[50]


Princeton Rugby, and the rest of the Ivy Rugby Conference, is sponsored by Boathouse Sports. The company is the exclusive kit manufacturer.

Former kit sponsors have included KooGa and Barbarian Rugby wear.


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External links