Following the 1905 season, Stanford, responding like other American universities to concerns about the violence in football, dropped football in favor of rugby. Despite having no knowledge of the sport, Lanagan was retained as the rugby coach, spending time in Vancouver, British Columbia to study the sport. In his first season, the team ended with a 6–2–1 season. Lanagan remained as rugby coach for two more seasons. He also served as Stanford's baseball coach from 1906 to 1907.