Rugby came to the University of Minnesota in 1883 through a curious twist of fate. Thomas Peebles, a professor of mental and moral philosophy, was asked by a ground of students to help prepare for a football game against Carleton College. Days before the match, the Gophers were notified that Carleton intended to play rugby. Peebles hesitatingly accepted and refereed the game, which Carleton won 2-4.
In 1884, Gopher Rugby players John Adams and Win Sargent introduced Ski-U-Mah as the new rugby team cheer. The University would go on to appropriate it as a slogan used to this day.
In the following years, a battle for popularity with football saw rugby come and go from campus. It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the “game played in heaven” made a resurgence.
The following decades saw Gopher Rugby establish a place of prominence on the national stage, with a series of high profile wins and accomplishments. In 2010, Gopher Rugby was invited to compete in USA Rugby’s D1A division - the highest level of regular season competition in America.