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Notre Dame rugby club celebrates 50th year

Emily Schrank | Monday, May 2, 2011

Several students and alumni gathered on campus for a different kind of reunion this weekend — the 50th anniversary of the Notre Dame rugby club.

Club president Patrick Griffin said the Notre Dame rugby club “has a long and storied history.”

The club was founded in 1961 and became a national power after winning the national championship in 1965, the senior said.

“In the mid-80s and 90s the club was kicked off campus for behavioral problems,” he said. “We finally regained status as an official university club sport in 2008 and have experienced meteoric growth ever since.”

In its first year as a club sport, the team moved from Division II to Division I status, Griffin said.

“We competed in the Midwest League for the next few years and finished the 2010 season at the top of the League,” he said.

The club was also one of the nation’s 31 most elite teams to be selected for the Collegiate Premier Division.

“We were expected to finish as the bottom of the League, but instead finished in third place with victories over LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee and rival Ohio State,” he said.

The club will participate in the second annual Collegiate Rugby Championship 7’s tournament in Philadelphia this summer.

Griffin said the Notre Dame rugby club also has strong support from alumni.

“The camaraderie and tradition of the team is evident especially after this weekend, when alumni from many generations, including the original 1961 team, returned to campus,” he said.

Griffin said the club has been a big part of his life as a student and that he will miss it once he graduates.

“I have been a member of the club for four years and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my time at Notre Dame,” he said. “I have met some of my best friends through the club and I still play rugby with many of the players who graduated in past years.”