Combine sugar, water, vanilla pod and seeds, and rhubarb in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer until rhubarb is tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool completely. Pour the syrup through a sieve, discarding the rhubarb. Remove vanilla pod before serving, if desired. Syrup (with vanilla pod) can be stored in refrigerator up to 1 week.