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Rugby at the 1920 Antwerpen Summer Games:

Men's Rugby

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Host City: Antwerpen, Belgium
Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Antwerpen
Date Started: September 5, 1920
Date Finished: September 5, 1920
Format: Single-contest.

Gold: USA United States
Silver: FRA France


The rugby football Olympic tournament consisted of only one match. It was played between the United States and France. The U.S. squad was made up of American football players from California colleges, notably Stanford, California, and Santa Clara. The French team was composed of players from four clubs near Paris: Racing Club de France, Olympique Paris, Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux, and the Sporting Club Universitaire de Paris. In a major upset the United States won, 8-0, despite most of the players being fairly new to the sport of rugby football. The United States scored with a try (five points) and a field goal (three points), both in the second half.

One of the United States team members, Rudy Scholz of the University of Santa Clara, wrote about the Olympic match for a local paper, “About the game. It started at 5 PM, (time here for all big matches) and there was a crowd of about 20,000 present, despite the fact it was raining. At a council of war we decided that because the ground was wet and slippery and the ball likewise, we would make it a forward game. The French tried a backfield game, and they lost although they were fast. The slippery ball and field proved their undoing. Our forwards outweighed the French easily, and ‘Babe’ Slater was a wonder in the line-outs, as was Mahoney, Fish, and Tilden. We in the backfield didn’t have one passing rush, but our defense was superb, and Templeton did not have one tackle to make. Those from Santa Clara in the final line up were [James] Fitzpatrick, [John] Muldoon, [John] O’Neil and myself. Bill Muldoon and [James] Winston did not play. Score end of first half 0-0. Middle of second half our forwards dribbled to the French’s ten yard line and then we marked a kick directly in front of the goal and [“Dink”] Templeton put it over 3-0. Latter part of second half we dribbled to their five yard line and when the French first five fumbled, [Joseph] Hunter picked it up and fell over the line. Converted. Final score 8-0.”

After the Olympic competition, the U.S. Olympic rugby team toured France and played four games. On 19 September, in Lyons, the U.S. team defeated a team representing the southeast of France, 26-0. A southern French team then lost to the U.S. team in Toulouse, 14-3, and then at Bordeaux, a southwest French team lost, 6-3. Finally, in Paris, on 10 October, a French national team defeated the U.S., 14-5.

Rugby football had been contested at the 1919 Inter-Allied Games, with a round-robin tournament between France, Romania, and the United States. Both France and the United States defeated Romania, and France then defeated the United States, 8-3, on 29 June 1919 to win the event.

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Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 United States USA Gold
2 France FRA Silver