The Start of Western Rugby in 1956
The first reference to Rugby at Western Washington State College (Achieved University status in 1977) was in student newspaper: Collegian 10/26/56. There is no further reference until January 24, 1958, where there was a headline “Western enters rugby league” Where 20-25 men have organized a Rugby team for Western with their own money and will enter the Vancouver Rugby Union’s “B” Division. If there is interest created and they win a few matches it was rumored that athletic department will try and have the sport included in the budget next year as a minor sport. At this point, Rugby was considered a instrumental club sport.
Don Burgess who was a Canadian attending Western but had a Rugby background from growing up in Victoria, Canada and was instrumental and pulling together other Canadian students and American athletes to form the first squad. Don was an outstanding player who later played for Canada’s National team and is inducted into Canada’s Rugby Hall of Fame. Don later came back to Western to earn his Master’s degree in teaching and played with the 1967 team. He also was one of 3 who had played at Western to be on the British Columbia Representative side that beat the British Lions (All Star Team from England, Wales, Ireland & Scotland) in Vancouver in 1966 but will save that story for a featured blog in the future.
As you’re receiving our exclusive content from Western’s historical past and from current team activities there will be lots of additional information and features to come.
1958 Homecoming Queen