The Alleged Birthplace of Football

The Alleged Birthplace of Football

In the fall of 1869, a team from Rutgers University – one of the original colonial colleges – challenged Princeton to a football game. It was a challenge that would forever be etched into the history of sports.

The origins of modern football are rooted in multiple varieties of football played in the 19th century in Britain. These games evolved from folk games derived from medieval ball games.

Rutgers University versus Princeton University

Rutgers and Princeton met in a game that was played on November 6, 1869, on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, N.J. It was a game that was similar to modern football.

It was a violent game, and both teams were well-trained for it. Players from both teams batted the ball with their fists and hands, in addition to their feet.

As the game progressed, each team scored by kicking the ball across a goal. The rules were based on the London Football Association’s version, but both teams agreed to a few tweaks of their own.

In the end, Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4. But the rivalry never really went away, and fans of both schools still have fond memories of the battles between the two teams.

Rutgers defeated Princeton 6-4

On 6 November 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played the first college football game. This was a rudimentary game with rugby-like rules and only a round ball.

The game took place on a Saturday afternoon in New Brunswick, N.J. In front of a fired up crowd of about 100, Rutgers defeated Princeton 6-4.

One of the most interesting things about this game is that Rutgers had 27 students on the field. A quick glance at the academic rolls shows that most of them were Classics students.

In fact, the Rutgers student newspaper, the Daily Targum, reported on the game in a great deal of detail.

The game lasted about 30 minutes, with Rutgers scoring the first two points in less than five minutes. The team was led by captain William Leggett, who urged his players to “keep their kicks short and low.” They scored two more points and won the game. The Rutgers student paper described the game as “headlong running, wild shouting, and frantic kicking.”

Rutgers and Princeton became rivals

The alleged birthplace of football, Rutgers and Princeton became rivals when their teams first played a game 150 years ago. On November 6, 1869, a team from Princeton traveled to New Brunswick to challenge Rutgers.

The rules of the game differed from those used today, and were much more aggressive. Rutgers won the first game 6-4.

A second game between the two schools was scheduled for one week later. But it was cancelled after faculty members from both colleges complained that the sport was interfering with student studies.

The game was a tumultuous affair, with headlong running, wild shouting, and frantic kicking. It was a classic battle between collegiate football’s founders.

Rutgers and Princeton were the first collegiate football teams

On November 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton, two universities in New Jersey, played the first collegiate football game. According to a historian, this game was “replete with surprise, strategy, prodigies of determination and physical prowess.”

For the match, 50 players from each team – Princeton had 25 men, while Rutgers had 30 – assembled on a field where the present-day Rutgers gymnasium stands in New Brunswick. They wore scarlet-colored scarfs that they turned into turbans and used suspenders as belts.

At the urging of Captain William Leggett of Rutgers, the contest was held under rules adopted from those of the London Football Association. These included the use of two men for a goal and of a third man to be detailed for following the ball up and down the field.

This first game was won by Rutgers, 6-4. It was the beginning of a long rivalry that continued until 1980.

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