Robert Benson was introduced to the sport of Rugby in 1975 in Boston, Massachusetts at the Harvard Business School. He was elected Club President in the spring of his first year in the MBA program. During the Easter break of his second year, the HBS team traveled to Freeport and Nassau Bahamas for Benson’s first international tour. He has continued playing for the past 45 years with the HBS Old Boys Club Alumni team serving as both President, Vice President, and Director. During his tenure as a leader of the HBSOB Club he organized and lead successful international tours to France (3 times), England, Italy, the Bahamas and Portugal. After business school in Boston, Benson moved to the West Coast where he played rugby first with the Palo Alto Club while attending Raychem training in the Bay Area and then for Irvine Coast (Newport Beach, CA) when Raychem stationed him in Southern California. After 3 plus years in SoCal, Benson returned to the Bay Area with Raychem and played with the Palo Alto rugby club for several years.
In 1984 Benson was one of four founders of the PAXO Rugby Club, a merger of the Palo Alto and XO clubs. The PAXO Rugby Club was a successful merger as the Club placed in the top tier in the most competitive rugby union in the USA at the time, playing on a regular basis versus the Old Blues from Berkeley, the BATS in San Francisco and the Seahawks in San Jose. In 1986 Benson was the founder and organizer of the PAXO Old Blacks which was the over 35 group of PAXO players.
Benson still plays Touch rugby with the Stanford Touch rugby club several days a week, and he continues to play Old Boys contact rugby with the HBSOB team during the teams Fall events in Boston and on the yearly international tours. He played his last international Old Boys game in Japan in 2019 with the HBSOB against the Keio University Old Boys team, and at 74 years old he played in the annual HBSOB game vs the HBS current team in Boston in 2022.
His experience with youth and high school rugby includes 20 plus years of coaching and administration with the Peninsula Green HS Rugby Club, the founding of the Peninsula Green Youth Rugby Club and the founding the Stanford Youth Rugby Club. He coached for multiple years (including international tours) with the Rugby NorCal HS All Star teams, and served Rugby California (Youth HS) as Director, and Rugby NorCal as Director, Secretary and Finance Chair. Benson has also served as manager for the USA Rugby High School All Americans. His most recent coaching assignment is with Serra High School in San Mateo, CA where Benson and Moses Similai are starting a new rugby program at this well known high school. He is currently a Governor for the US Rugby Foundation where he contributes to the management of USRF IT and software for the US Rugby Hall of Fame and many of the grant and scholarship programs.
Benson grew up in Marshalltown, Iowa where he played most American sports. He graduated from Iowa State University (BS Mechanical Engineering), with Honors in 1971, and the Harvard Business School (MBA) with Distinction. His early work career included hands on experience in manufacturing management, industrial sales and corporate finance with Procter & Gamble and Raychem Corporation. He then took on General Management and CEO roles and became a serial entrepreneur, founding over 5 companies. Rugby played a major role in almost all of these companies. In the founding of Lokring, his first entrepreneurial company, Benson’s partner and the first investor were rugby mates and there was a rugby connection with many of the investors. Benson also has consulting experience with Arthur D. Little and the Gordian Knot Consulting Group in strategy, operations, medical products, and enterprise systems.
Benson will celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with Jo Benson in March 2023. They have three grown children – Chantel, Hillary and Travis and one granddaughter. Benson mostly retired from active business in 2016, but continues with some consulting projects. He serves on several boards, and he has many home repair projects that keep him busy.