Rugby union at the 1920 Summer Olympics

Rugby union at the 1920 Summer Olympics was played in Antwerp, Belgium. Two nations entered the rugby union event at the 1920 Summer OlympicsFrance and the United States. The French team were thought to be assured of the gold medal and came in as raging favourites in the event. However, the United States team surprised everyone when defeating France by eight points to nil.[1]

Men's rugby union
at the Games of the VII Olympiad
Olympisch Stadion Antwerp 1.jpg
VenueOlympic Stadium
DateSeptember 5
Competitors33 from 2 nations
1st place, gold medalist(s)  United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) France France
← 1908
1924 →


The rugby football Olympic tournament consisted of only one match. It was played between the United States and France. The US squad was made up of American football players from California universities, notably Stanford, California, and Santa Clara. Due to American football becoming an increasingly violent sport, these and other west coast universities chose to instead play rugby union from 1906-1914.[2][3][4]

On the other side, the French team was composed of players from four clubs near Paris: Racing Club, Olympique, Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux, and Sporting Club Universitaire.

United States player Rudy Scholz wrote about the match:

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...[5]

After the Olympic competition, the US team toured England and France in 1924, playing three games in England as preparation for the 1924 Olympic competition.[6][7]

On 19 September, in Lyon, United States defeated a team representing the southeast of France 26–0. The American team also achieved victories against a southern French team (in Toulouse) and a southwest side at Bordeaux. United States was later defeated by France 14–5 in Paris.[5]

Match detailsEdit

United States   8–0   France XV
Try: Hunter
Con: Templeton
Pen: Templeton
Olympic Stadium, Antwerp
Attendance: 55,000[8]

Medal summaryEdit

Medal tableEdit

Rank Team Matches Points Avg. Tries Avg tries
    United States 1 8 8 1 1
    France XV 1 0 0 0 0
(none awarded)


Above: United States, gold medal; below, France, which lost 8–0
Event Gold Silver Bronze
Rugby union   United States (USA)

Trainer/Selector: Harry Maloney
Player/Coach: Daniel Carroll
Charles Doe
George Fish
James Fitzpatrick
Joseph Hunter
Morris Kirksey
Charles Mehan
John Muldoon
John O'Neil
John Patrick
Erwin Righter
Rudolph Scholz
Dink Templeton
Charles Lee Tilden (capt)
Heaton Wrenn
Harold Von Schmidt

(did not play the game):
Matthew E. Hazeltine, Sr.
Colby Slater
James Winston

  France (FRA)

Édouard Bader
François Borde
Adolphe Bousquet
Jean Bruneval
Alphonse Castex
André Chilo
René Crabos
Alfred Eluère
Jacques Forestier
Maurice Labeyrie
Robert Levasseur
Pierre Petiteau
Raoul Thiercelin

(did not play the game):
Raymond Berrurier

none awarded


Rugby Commissioner and President of the California Rugby Union, Harry Maloney, was Coach and Trainer of the team.

  • James Fitzpatrick is missing in the IOC medal database but he did compete in the match.
  • James Winston is listed in the IOC medal database but he did not participate.
  • Bill Muldoon was also a squad member of the American team but did not compete (and is not listed in the IOC medal database).
  • Raymond Berrurier is listed in the IOC medal database but he did not participate.
  • Constant Lamaignière, Eugène Soulié, and Robert Thierry were squad members for the French team but they did not play (and were not listed in the IOC medal database).
  • Morris Kirksey also won gold for the United States in the 4x100 metre relay at these games.


  1. ^ Rugby in the Olympics on University of Idaho website
  2. ^ "Many changes in rugby game". The Evening News (San Jose). September 14, 1906. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  3. ^ Elliott, Orrin Leslie (1937). Stanford University – The First Twenty Five Years 1891–1925. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. 231–233. ISBN 9781406771411. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  4. ^ Park, Roberta J (Winter 1984). "From Football to Rugby—and Back, 1906–1919: The University of California–Stanford University Response to the "Football Crisis of 1905"" (PDF). Journal of Sport History. 11 (3): 5–40. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-08-07.
  5. ^ a b Rugby at the 1920 Antwerpen on Sports Reference
  6. ^ Gallagher, Brendan (15 May 2016). "Olympic spirit was forgotten amid violence and acrimony". The RugbyPaper. No. 400. pp. 32–3.
  7. ^ CalBear81. "1924 Rugby: A Wild Olympic Rematch". Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  8. ^ "OLYMPICS - Antwerp, 5 September 1920, 17:00 local, 16:00 GMT". espnscrum. Retrieved 6 May 2021.

External linksEdit