College Program Highlight – Bowdoin College

Brunswick, ME


General School Information


Founded in 1794, Bowdoin College is a private, liberal arts school in Brunswick, Maine situated on over 200 acres near the coastline, Casco Bay, and the Androscoggin River. Bowdoin is known for its beautiful campus especially in the fall with the vibrant colors of the changing leaves. With a total enrollment of just under 2,000 students, Bowdoin is well known for its outstanding academics, research opportunities, friendly campus, and for creating ‘leaders in all walks of life’. Students report feeling happy, connected, and supported in a close-knit community. The college offers over 40 majors, 40 minors, and several joint engineering programs with the following colleges: Columbia, Caltech, Dartmouth College, and The University of Maine. With the addition of the Roux Center and the 112 acre Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Bowdoin placed itself at the apex of environmental and oceanographic studies in the United States.

Rugby Information


Women’s Rugby

Bowdoin College holds an elite status among collegiate women’s rugby programs as the oldest NCAA varsity team in the USA (since 2003) as well as the current NIRA DIII 2019 National Champions.  The Polar Bears play in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA), a conference made up of all NCAA Varsity teams.  Prior to the 2019 Division III sponsored championship, Bowdoin Women won the inaugural NIRA Tier 2 Championship in 2016 and 2018 and placed second in Fall 2017.  Two USA Rugby Women’s National Team players hail from Bowdoin College as well as over twenty Collegiate All-Americans.

Coach MaryBeth Mathews emphasizes a supportive and inclusive team culture based on respect, commitment, and valuing the unique qualities each student-athlete brings to the team. Here you’ll find a team that puts academics first, works together and strives for excellence on the pitch and off.  Good sportsmanship, camaraderie and teamwork make the hard work fun and rewarding. Mathews shares her coaching philosophy as one that “involves a holistic, person-centered approach. By getting to know and interacting with the whole person, the student as well as the athlete, I believe this kind of validation and support provides fertile ground for optimal growth as young adults.  It carries over into our games-based approach to coaching rugby which provides a stimulating, competitive and fun learning experience for all levels.”


Prior to joining NIRA, the Polar Bears have a 25 year winning history and made several appearances in the NRU (Northeast Rugby Union) and NERFU (New England Rugby Football Union) playoffs, winning multiple championships and qualifying for nationals postseason play in 21 consecutive years at the Division II level. A large and diverse varsity team on campus, the program supports over 40 students, and fields a competitive A-side and a developmental B-side, allowing as many athletes to compete as possible, while maintaining a competitive level of play. As a no-cut sport, the women’s rugby team attracts high school recruits from across the country and internationally, as well as first-time players and crossover or two-sport athletes. The fall 15s season consists of 8 or 9 regular season games followed by the NIRA playoffs.  Spring season sees a smaller slate of 7s tournaments and a 15s match or two. The team tours internationally every four years and most recently completed a 10-day tour to Spain and France in 2017.  The 2021 tour has been postponed due to covid.  The women’s team currently plays in the NIRA Division III.


“Bowdoin College has so much to offer to the right student looking for a high quality liberal arts education with a competitive, friendly and well-supported varsity rugby program.  The need-blind admissions and generous, no loan financial aid awards make this educational experience attainable for anyone. We are extremely proud of our graduates who go on to do amazing things, and also of the feedback we get from students and alumni about their academic, athletic and extracurricular experiences,” Coach Mathews says.


As a varsity sport on campus, Coach Mathews works directly with an admissions liaison in order to give prospective students access to information and advice on the challenging admissions process. Because of Bowdoin’s highly selective admissions process, Coach Mathews explained that she is able to work with admissions to provide a student an “early read” and advise them on their application;  she can support academically qualified recruits but is not able to “push through” an applicant if their merits do not already warrant admission to the college.


Bowdoin College has also played host to Polar Bear Rugby Camp each July since 2012. Catered to high school and college women, Mathews attracts top national, NCAA and international coaches who love partnering together to teach their favorite sport and deliver an outstanding rugby learning experience.


Men’s Rugby

Founded in 1969, the Bowdoin Rugby Football Club has been a part of Bowdoin’s campus for half a century. Rugby in Maine began when a group of Bowdoin students teamed up with faculty (including former Bowdoin President Roger Howell) and Maine locals to bring the game to the Pine Tree State.


Always characterized by strong camaraderie and teamwork, Bowdoin fields both an “A” and a “B” side ensuring all participants the opportunity to play a game every weekend during the Fall and Spring season. The Club has a strong tradition of success, playing in NERFU’s Challenger Division. Bowdoin Ruggers have been selected to represent the New England Rugby Union, the Eastern Collegiate Rugby Team as well as the All-American Rugby Team. Since the club’s inception over 50 years ago, Bowdoin has maintained an overall career winning percentage of more than 70% and is consistently nationally ranked.


Since its inception, BRFC has always been a student-led organization. Club leadership is selected by the members of the club on merit of success on and off the field. In the Fall of 2019, the club hired its first full time Head Coach, Jake Fautley, and continues to have long time Bowdoin coaches Rick Scala and Gary Devoe working as assistant coaches. This team of coaches aims to provide an environment of growth and education focusing on core principles of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment , Discipline, and Sportsmanship. Coaches and club leaders collaborate to ensure that all members of the team achieve success beyond the pitch and create a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive environment along with a strong relationship with the Bowdoin community. The club is very well supported by the College with its coaching staff, dedicated pitch, full time athletic trainer, access to fitness facilities, and a S&C coach and travel to away games and much more.


The Bowdoin Rugby Football Club is also supported by a large and proud alumni base also known as the Bowdoin Alumni Touring Side (BATS). Upon graduating from Bowdoin, all its ruggers become members of the BATS. The BATS are very active with the current students especially with its recently created BATS Mentorship Program (founded Fall 2019). Each senior is paired with a BATS member who looks to guide the senior through networking opportunities, interview practice ,and resume building to help the student enter the real world post College. The BATS isn’t all work however, those who are willing take part in the BATS rugby match over homecoming weekend and they regularly go on tours with one another, quite often to rugby events around the country. 



Bowdoin College Stats

  • Tuition and Fees (Total Cost): $71,710 (includes tuition, fees, room and board)

  • Average Financial Aid Award: $48,000 (includes no loans)

  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,950

  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9:1

  • Acceptance Rate: <10%

  • Admissions Deadline: ED1, Nov 15; ED2 and Regular, Jan 5

  • SAT (50% range): 1405-1510

  • Average ACT: 31/34

Team Details

Men’s Rugby Team Website: https://athletics.bowdoin.edu/sports/mens-rugby Men’s Head Coach: Jake Fautley – jfautley@bowdoin.edu   Women’s Rugby Team Website: https://athletics.bowdoin.edu/sports/wrugby/index Women’s Head Coach: Marybeth Mathews – mmathews@bowdoin.edu


Social Media

Women’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BowdoinWomensRugby/ Women’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/bowdoinwrugby?lang=en Men’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bowdoinrugbyfootballclub/ Men’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/bowdoinrugby Men’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bowdoinrugby/?hl=en</a Women’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bowdoinwomensrugby/?hl=en


Information edited from Bowdoin College’s website, CollegeData.com, and US News World Report.

0 comments