The Pittsburgh Harlequins were founded in 1973 at the University of Pittsburgh by law students and were originally known as “University of Pittsburgh Law School Rugby Football Club”.
After experimenting with several different names, the team was officially changed to The Pittsburgh Harlequins RFC in 1975 and expanded beyond the University of Pittsburgh community. That same year the team moved their home field to McCahill Park in Fox Chapel.
In 1976 the team went on its first international tour to Bermuda.
In the two decades that followed the team grew in numbers and in following, They were able to go on several more international tours throughout the late 70s, the 80s, and the early 90s- visiting Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and the Bahamas.
In 1995 the Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby Football Association was founded to support the team as well as their youth outreach. The Association was comprised of alumni who loved the Harlequins and the sport of rugby, as well as several prominent businessmen and government officials. The Association worked to find the team a more permanent home.
That year the team moved to Kennard Field in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and transitioned from competing in the Division 2 Midwest Territorial Union (TU), to a Division 1 Mid Atlantic TU team.
In 1996, the team began initiated its first mentoring program in Braddock. Local organizations helped support the effort, and more than 20 years later the program continues to thrive.
In 1997, the RFA bought 12 acres of land in Indiana, Pennsylvania and constructed two full-sized lighted rugby pitches with an adjacent parking lot and clubhouse. The facility opened in 1999 and the team has called Founders Field home ever since.
The facility hosts a number of high-profile events in the sport of Rugby annually. These events include high level collegiate games, national qualifiers for both men and women, and National Championship tournaments.
The organization has also continued its youth mentoring program. The PHRFA uses a volunteer network of nationally certified rugby coaches and players to provide community rugby programs to disadvantaged youth throughout Allegheny County, with the goal of instilling the values that team athletics can provide, including self-confidence, leadership, and integrity.
In 2017, the Association is undertaking its 21st year of uninterrupted Youth Mentoring Programs in the Pittsburgh Area. The 2017 Program includes 4 sites, 28 neighborhoods, an anticipated 1500 volunteer hours, and over 200 youth from predominantly at risk communities.
Today, the team continues to compete nationally in Division I of the Mid Atlantic Conference. As of 2017 the club includes active and alumni members totaling over 1300 players since its founding by University of Pittsburgh law students. The Club advanced to the Final 16 of the National Championships in 1999 and 2004 and are hoping to reach a new level of success with a new generation of Harlequins players and fans.