The club was founded on 1981-07-09 by a group of former students of University of Porto and University of Coimbra, were they had also played. Shortly after, in 1983, the club became champion of the Portuguese Third Division. Also in that year, the club started to have youth teams.
On 1986-05-01 the Coutada sports field was inaugurated, created exclusively for practising rugby.
In the season of 1986–87, CRAV promoted to Portugal top rugby union level league, Campeonato Nacional de Rugby, and have stayed on that level most of the seasons since then. In 2005, CRAV eventually played, and lost, the championship finals to Dramático de Cascais.
In 2006, the municipal stadium of Arcos de Valdevez was inaugurated. In 2007, the juvenile team became national champion of Rugby of 8; also the women's team reached the top national level.