The 1980s -  Humble Beginnings  

The history of Rugby Football at Gonzaga dates back to the fall of 1987.  A few students, inspired by tales of sporting glory from their brothers and friends in college, brought the ‘Nobel Art” to their beloved school on Eye Street.  At the time the school administration did not share the enthusiasm of these brave innovators and they were forced to form a club called “Eye Street Rugby” to realize their dream.  This un-recognized club began play, as part of a six-team Potomac Rugby Union (PRU) High School Division, in the spring of 1988.  They recorded only one win in their first two seasons, an inauspicious and humble beginning.

The 1990s - Gaining Varsity Status

The 90s saw a steady increase in the number of players and the number of victories.  In 1994 the team gained varsity status at the school and the team’s name changed to Gonzaga Rugby.  Varsity status helped to spur an improvement in their rugby abilities and in 1998 the “Men of Eye Street” won their first first PRU championship, as well as a first visit to the National Championship where they placed third.  A big part of the growth of the 1990s was the work of JP Perez who, after a stellar playing career, coached Gonzaga from 1996 to 2002.

The 2000s –Establishing
 Regional Dominance

The decade saw Gonzaga dominating the region under the direction of the current Director of Rugby Lee Kelly.  One of the key developments of the decade was the tradition of the annual spring break tour.  In the 2000s Gonzaga Rugby toured the Cayman Islands (2002), England and Wales (2001, 03), Ireland (2001, 03, 06), France and Spain (2008), Argentina and Uruguay (2004, 05, 07, 09).  The tours were instrumental in improving the level of rugby for both individual players and the teams by challenging more experienced and higher caliber teams.  During the decade, Gonzaga won the ten straight PRU championships, five of six Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union (MARFU) championships (2004, 05, 07, 08 and 09), and two Mid-Atlantic Varsity Rugby Conference Championships (MAVRC). Gonzaga also played in six national championships finishing 11th (2001), 6th (2004), 7th (2005), 6th (2007), 6th (2008), and making the semi-finals and finishing 4th in 2009.

The 2010s - Growing into a National Power

The first five years of the decade saw Gonzaga becoming a national powerhouse program.  This was spurred by the expansion of the program to over 200 players and six teams, including the creation of a Freshman rugby team.  This provided an opportunity for many more players to gain experience and more importantly, valuable playing time for all players.  Along with more teams, came an expansion and development of the coaching staff to over 20 coaches and staff.  The tradition of the spring break tours continued with tours to Argentina and Uruguay (2011, 13), Italy (2010, 14), and Spain and Portugal (2012).  The tours now saw Gonzaga taking on even more challenging teams to play.  On the 2012 tour Gonzaga became the first ever American team to play in the annual Portugal International Rugby Festival and took on teams from Portugal, Argentina, England, and the professional academy team from Biarritz, France.  On the 2013 tour Gonzaga played against their first ever national team by playing the Uruguayan National U-17 team.  On the 2014 tour, Gonzaga took on the defending Italian champions, Capitolina.  2010 saw the start of a new exciting feature of Gonzaga's season, the sponsoring of the annual Jesuit Rugby Classic (JRC).  The JRC helps raise funds for the Washington Jesuit Academy, a middle school for boys from low-income communities.  The JRC is the one time when all six of Gonzaga's teams are together playing in one location, and Gonzaga's varsity team has won six consecutive Jesuit Classic titles.  Overall in the 2010s, Gonzaga has won the final three PRU championships (2011-2013), the final two MARFU championships (2010, 11) and five MAVRC championships (2010, 12, 13, 14, 15).  Gonzaga has played in a single-school record seven straight National Championship semi-finals finishing 2nd (2010, 13), 3rd (2011), 4th (2012), and winning the program's first National Championship in 2014.  Gonzaga joined an elite group of only three single-schools in the 34 year history of high school rugby national championships that have won back-to-back national championships, with their second consecutive national championship in 2015.



Watch the ABC7 News story on Gonzaga winning their first National Championship

Click Here to Watch the 2014 Season Slideshow









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