Team History

The Wisconsin Rugby Football Club was founded in 1962 by collegiate students, alumni, and Madison residents both with and without rugby experience. This club proved to be one of the most successful teams in the midwest during the sixties and early seventies. In the 1969 Big Ten Championship match, the Wisconsin Rugby Club claimed the Big Ten title after upsetting Indiana University 9-6 in overtime. This ended IU’s two year unbeaten streak. Highlights also included consecutive Tulane Mardi Gras Tournamnet Championships in ’69 and ’70, and a second place finish in the 1970 Big Ten Tournament. In 1971 the WRC beat long time rivals the Chicago Lions five times- once at home, once away, and in the finals of three tournaments. The WRC capped the 1971 season by becoming the first US Club side to tour Wales. The WRC won its final Big Ten Championship as a university entrant in 1974.

In 1977 the University side split from WRC and the present day University of Wisconsin RFC came into being- a team comprised entirely of UW undergrads. Under the guidance of long time Coach Stu Pippel, the UWRFC won 7 Wisconsin University Union championships. This Union includes teams from Marquette University, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Platteville, UW-Lacrosse, UW-Stout and UW-Stevens Point. In 1992- Stu Pippel’s final year as head coach- UW won the Midwest Cup and advanced to the National Collegiate Final Four. There UW was forced to contend with the three other regional winners- Cal Berkeley, Air Force, and Harvard. UW lost both games and finished fourth in the nation. Stu Pippel has since been replaced by Coach Skip Heffernan.

On the club’s 20th anniversary, Skip and the boys took a giant step forward in the journey to reestablish the UWRFC among the collegiate elite. The club finished 8-1 in the 1997 season, and by winning the Wisconsin Union earned the right to represent the state of Wisconsin in the national playoffs. The Badgers won their first match against a tough Illinois team, but eventually fell to Midwest champion Indiana University. In recent years, UW has won the Milwaukee Cup three of the past five years and has won the New Orleans Mardi Gras tournament two years running. In 2004, the University of Wisconsin Rugby Club tallied a record of 9-2, advancing to the Midwest Final Four and losing to eventual champion Michigan. In 2012, the Badgers won the inaugural BigTen 15’s Championship, and in 2013 were runners up for the BigTen title. Additionally, the Badgers won the Big 10 15’s tournament in 2014. Wisconsin also competed in the National Collegiate 15’s tournament in 2010, 2011, and 2012. UW has remained a dominant force in the conference.

UW is also proud of their dominant 7’s team, garnering back-to-back Big Ten championships in 2012 & 2013. Along with victories in multiple CRC’s, the Badger 7’s squad has represented the Big Ten two years in a row at the USA Rugby national 7’s tourneys at Texas A&M and in the Collegiate Rugby Championships in Philadelphia.