The man who morphed Rugby into Gridiron

Photo from

Photo from

A lot of people know Walter Camp as “the Father of American Football.” Not many people, though, know that Camp was a Yale man (like me) and a fine rugby player (unlike me).

Camp was an exceptionally gifted athlete of the first order. He played on every varsity sports team at Yale, including hurdles, rowing, swimming, and tennis. He was the captain of both the baseball and football teams.

But he was more than a jock. He attended Yale Medical School, worked his way up to the chairmanship of the New Haven Clock Company, moonlighted as a sports writer, coached university teams, and served on numerous civic committees including the rules committees governing collegiate football.

His first passion was rugby. Back in his early school years, the 1870s, rugby was the premier game that elite American universities played among themselves.

It was all about kicking in those days. A “try” meant that after the attacking team crossed the line and touched the ball down – for which they received no points – they could have a “try” at goal, worth one point. Many of those early collegiate games were decided by 1-0 scores, even if attacking teams had scored three or four of what today are known as tries.

The story, written by Ambassador David Huebner, continues here.

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