Rugby has been played continuously at Stanford since 1906 (it had been played intermittently since the University’s founding in 1891) and was a varsity sport with a history of national championships until 1977. Faced with the loss of varsity status in that year, a group of enterprising students and rugby enthusiasts founded the men’s and women’s rugby clubs to continue Stanford’s proud rugby tradition.
By the late 1980s, however, it became clear that rugby’s future at Stanford would depend on quality coaching and financial resources not available to the student athletes or club sports program, so a number of generous alumni formed the Stanford Rugby Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose is to provide financial support and counseling in support of the men’s and women’s rugby programs and to ensure that current student athletes have the same high quality of rugby experience that earlier generations have enjoyed.
All of Stanford’s rugby facilities—which are among the best in the country—were built with alumni contributions. The Stanford Rugby Foundation oversees an endowed fund that annually provides all of the resources necessary for coach salaries, transportation, trainers, and equipment for the men’s and women’s programs. In addition, the Stanford Rugby Improvement Fund provides discretionary funds for playoff travel and other non-budgeted expenses, including field improvements such as lights. Finally, the Don Bunce Fund, named in honor of the 1972 Rose Bowl quarterback for Stanford whose first love was rugby and who served as the team’s doctor in later years, provides funds to assist elite individual Stanford players in their efforts to advance their game at the national or international level.
The generosity of Stanford Rugby’s supporters has resulted in the largest sports program on campus, with over 100 annual participants. In the last decade, the men have been to the national playoffs several times including a 2002 National Championship, while the women have won four National Championships. Both teams have toured all over the world, enriching their Stanford experience.