College football

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College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college play that North American football codes first gained popularity in Canada and the United States.



Modern North American football has its origins in various games, all known as "football", played at public schools in England in the mid-19th century. By the 1840s, students at Rugby School were playing a game in which players were able to pick up the ball and run with it, a sport later known as Rugby football. The game was taken to Canada by British soldiers stationed there and was soon being played at Canadian colleges.

The first documented gridiron football match was a game played at University College, University of Toronto November 9, 1861 on the present site of University College (400 yards west of Queen's Park). One of the participants in the game involving University of Toronto students was (Sir) William Mulock, later Chancellor of the school. A football club was formed at the university soon afterward, although its rules of play at this stage are unclear.[2]

In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland and Frederick A. Bethune devised rules based on rugby football. However, modern Canadian football is widely regarded as having originated with a game of rugby played in Montreal, in 1865, when British Army officers played local civilians.[2] The game gradually gained a following, and the Montreal Football Club was formed in 1868, the first recorded non-university football club in Canada.

The first "football" game played between teams representing colleges in the United States was an unfamiliar ancestor of today's college football, as it was played under 99-year-old soccer-style Association rules.[1] The game between teams from Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) took place on November 6, 1869 at College Field (now the site of the College Avenue Gymnasium at Rutgers University) in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers won by a score of 6 "runs" to Princeton's 4.[2][3][4] The 1869 game between Rutgers and Princeton is important in that it is the first documented game of intercollegiate football game ever played between two American colleges. It is also notable in that it came a full-two years before a codified rugby game would be played in England. The Princeton/Rutgers game was undoubtedly different from what we today know as American football. Nonetheless it was the forerunner of what evolved into American football. Another similar game took place between Rutgers and Columbia University in 1870 and the popularity of intercollegiate competition in football would spread throughout the country.

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