1882-1883 Association Foot Ball Summary

by Melvin Smith

America’s break with the rugby game seems to be complete after rules proposed by Walter Camp were adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA) meeting on 04/29/1882. These rules were formally accepted and passed on 10/14/1882. The British Rugby FBC of New York City then scheduled two rugby union football games in November 1882 to show the people the difference between America’s version of foot-ball as opposed to the rugby union football as played in Britain. Articles also began to appear in November 1882 declaring there were now three forms of football played in America; the association game of football, the rugby game and the intercollegiate football association (IFA) game of football.


Eight varsity college teams have been found playing the association game of foot-ball this season. They are shown by record along with the total goals scored versus goals against:

         TEAM               RECORD        GF       GA
State Univ Iowa (U Iowa)    2-0-0         2*       0
Richmond Coll               1-0-0         5g       1g   
Virginia Military Inst      0-0-1         1g       1g 
Washington & Lee Univ       0-0-1         1g       1g
Minnesota (U Minn) Coll     1-1-0         2g       1g
Hamline Univ                1-1-0         1g       2g 
Randolph Macon Coll         0-1-0         1g       5g
Cornell (IA) Coll           0-2-0         0        2*
* The State University of Iowa (now University of Iowa) won two games from the Cornell College of Iowa. The actual scores have not been found.

A Minnesota Football League was scheduled to form with three teams; Hamline University, Minnesota College (now University of Minnesota) and the Carleton College of Northfield, MN. The 10/16/1882 game between Hamline and Minnesota is the only game found as a possible league game. No other data have been found to confirm Carleton College’s involvement with foot-ball this season.

In the junior circuit, Colorado College lost to the Colorado Springs (now Palmer) High School on 12/16/1882.


Eleven varsity college teams have been found playing the American rugby game of foot-ball this season. These teams did not use the new series-of-downs rule and continued to use the American version of the rugby using a scrimmage, instead of the scrum.

         TEAM                 RECORD         PF              PA
Colorado Coll                 1-0-0         2g,1t            2g
Howard Univ                   1-0-0         3g,3t             0  
U Michigan                    1-0-0         4g,5t            5s
Ripon Coll                    1-0-0          2g              1g
U California                  2-1-1       1g,3t,1s          1g,1t 
Lake Forest Univ              1-1-0       1g,3t,4s          1g,2t
US Naval Acad                 1-1-0          2t              1t 
Northwestern (IL) Univ        1-1-0         1g,2t         1g,3t,4s 
Lawrence Univ                 0-1-0          1g              2g
Lincoln (PA) Univ             0-1-0           0             3g,3t  
Johns Hopkins Univ “Cliftons” 1-3-0         1g,3t         1g,5t,1s  

At the varsity level, the University of California switched to playing the rugby game from the association game this season and the University of Michigan played rugby with a local team this year. The Colorado College switched from playing an association game with the local HS on 12/16/82 to a rugby game with the Sigafus Hose Company on 12/25/82 in Colorado Springs, CO. Johns Hopkins University played four rugby games as the Clifton FBC. Northwestern University, IL, and Lake Forest University traded wins in a two-game rugby series. Howard University of Washington, DC, beat Lincoln University of Oxford, PA, in a game of ‘rabble’ foot-ball. That game used a combination of soccer and rugby rules.

At a junior level of rugby play, the 2-year Clark Commercial College beat the Titusville High School (PA). The Columbian (now George Washington ) University played a tie game with the Episcopal HS of Alexandria, VA, and the Kendall Green (now Gallaudet) College beat the Episcopal HS but lost to the Washington (DC) HS.

The biggest rugby games of the season were played in the New York City area on 11/18 and 11/20/1882. The New York City British Rugby FBC scheduled two games with one of the strongest teams in Canada, the Montreal Britannia FBC. The first game was played on the St. George Cricket Grounds and there were 300 attendees.

The second game was played at the Polo Grounds (#1) and only had 200 attendees. The Britannia FBC won both games.


Eighteen teams have been possibly identified as playing the new collegiate game of football using the series-of-downs rule. This type of ball-possession has never been accepted in the rugby game. Both the goals scored from touchdowns and, when possible, goals from the field have been noted in the scoring totals.

         TEAM             RECORD          PF               PA
Yale College              8-0-0    41g,11fg,61t,2s      1fg,21s
Harvard Univ              9-1-0     8g,8fg,37t,5s      2g,5t,34s
St Johns (Fordham) Coll   7-1-0       11g,18t,2s         5g,9t 
Wesleyan (CT) Univ        3-1-0       8g,4fg,14t     8g,2fg,11t,3s
Princeton Coll            7-2-0     40g,5fg,65t,4s   3g,1fg,3t,19s                      
Rutgers Coll              6-4-0    19g,1fg,35t,20s  18g,4fg,38t,21s 
Dartmouth Coll            1-1-0        1g,1t,2s      2g,2fg,17t,2s
Stevens Tech              1-1-0        2g,8t,5s        2g,2t,11s
City Coll New York        1-2-0        2g,7t,19s        9g,21t
Amherst Coll              2-3-0        5g,8t,2s       5g,7fg,8t,2s
Coll St Francis Xavier    2-3-0          2g,5t         5g,5t,1s  
U Pennsylvania            2-4-0        6g,13t,4s     20g,1fg,34t,7s 
Mass Inst Tech            1-4-0        1g,7t,10s     11g,2fg,16t,4s
Columbia Coll             1-5-0        3g,7t,25s     22g,4fg,36t,1s
Lafayette Coll            0-2-0           3s            9g,15t 
Mass Agric (U Mass) Coll  0-2-0        1g,1t,3s       7g,13fg,9t
New York City Univ (NYU)  0-2-0           1t            3g,7t
Seton Hall Coll           0-2-0           1t              3t 

An article in the Harvard Advocate, Vol. XXXIV, #2, Oct. 6, 1882; pps 16 & 17; verifies football practice was using the series of downs rule before it was formerly passed at the IFA meeting on 10/14/82. You can see all the rule changes for 1882 in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle dated 10/27/83. These new rule changes were used by all the football teams playing on the Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY. Rule 33, section A, confirmed that a scrimmage was still being used. New York rugbeans had demanded that rule be taken out at the 04/08/1882 meeting with Walter camp. Section B of rule 33 contained the new series of downs rule, which also was not acceptable to the rugbeans. They did not want that kind of ball-control in their rugby game. Walter Camp had broken with the rugbeans.

In a lower division, there were about twent-seven teams identified as playing outside games using the new intercollegiate football rulesl. Class teams playing outside games made up the majority in this group. Some of best teams were found with the 1886 freshmen class teams of Yale, Harvard and Williams colleges. The Stevens Tech 1885 sophomore class team could also be ranked high.

An article in the NY Herald dated 11/05/82 used the name, ‘American Intercollegiate Game’ as opposed to the rugby union football game as played in Britain. On 11/10/82, the first article appeared stating, ‘there are now virtually but three codes of rules under which foot-ball is played: the English football association, the Rugby school code and the American Intercollegiate (Football) Association code (IFA)’ (Harvard Crimson, 11/10/82, ‘The Game of Foot Ball’). Other newspapers articles began to agree with the three-game statement. The Montreal Gazette of 11/18/82 called the new game the American Intercollegiate Game. The New Brunswick (NJ) Fredonian agreed in their 12/04/82 issue. Similar articles were written in the NY Herald, the Boston Globe, the Brooklyn Eagle and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Because of all the rules changed by the IFA (Intercollegiate Football Association), the new game was called the Intercollegiate or Collegiate Football game.

College Football Historical Society (CFHS) Newsletter; Vol. XXIV; #3; May 2011

Last update: August 20, 2011

Back to American Soccer History Archives main page