Origins of the University of Florida’s Rugby Program

University of Florida, Rugby Program pic
University of Florida, Rugby Program

United States Marine Corps veteran Christopher Dabney is a senior at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Christopher Dabney also plays rugby with the U.F. Men’s Rugby Club.

The University of Florida’s rugby program was established in 1969. The team was initially part of the intramural sports department, founded by a pair of Australian students who were bored with the school’s cricket team.

Rugby caught on quickly thanks to notices in the “Alligator” and participation from fraternities on campus. Within a couple of months, 20 or 30 men were ready to play real games.

A couple of New Zealanders had similar ideas at the University of Georgia in Athens. They brought their new team down to play against the Gators, but were horrified when they arrived and found hundreds of cars parked on the field. The cars, which belonged to football spectators, were moved, but the people stayed to watch the rugby game. These spectators loved it, and a new University of Florida tradition was born.


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