The place for fans of Canadian University Football

A Brief Introduction

Origins of the Game

Central Canada
- CIRFU 1898-1914
- Post WWI 1919-39
- Post WWII 1946-54
- A New Era 1955-66
- Ontario & Quebec 1967-79
- Ontario & Quebec 1980-

Western Canada
- WIRFU 1927-58
- WIFL 1959-1971
- CWUAA 1972-1998
- CW 1999-Present

Atlantic Canada
- Nova Scotia 1940-57
- NB and PEI 1948-57
- Atlantic Canada 1958-73
- AUFC 1974-Present

National and Regional Championships
- Introduction
- Churchill Bowl 1953-1964
- Churchill Bowl 1965-2002
- Atlantic Bowl 1959-2001
- Mitchell Bowl 2002-Present
- Uteck Bowl 2003-Present
- Vanier Cup 1965-Present

Conference Membership
- Atlantic
- Ontario
- Quebec
- West


A History of Canadian University Football
By Robert E. Watkins, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D. - revised May 2006

Evolution of Canadian Football from British Rugby Union and Association Football (Soccer) 1865-1897

  • 1865 - record of an rugby game (British rules) played between officers of a British army garrison in Montreal and a group of locals (some of whom were students at McGill University) which led to the adoption of the game by McGill students and the subsequent, gradual adaptation (or Canadianization) of the rules over the years

  • 1874 - McGill University versus Harvard University exhibition series - two games at Harvard (May 14 & 15, 1874), one at McGill (Autumn, 1874)

    • These games are considered by many to be the beginnings of the two strains of North American football (Canadian and American) as sports distinct from British rugby and soccer

  • 1879 - a match between the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan was played in the United States in 1879; the return match was played in Toronto in 1880, indicating further cross-fertilization of American and Canadian rugby football rules which were becoming increasingly different from those of British rugby

  • 1881 - McGill visited Toronto for the first Canadian intercollegiate rugby football game; the two schools subsequently played each other once a year, the site of the game alternating between Toronto and Montreal except for the years 1890, 1893, 1896 and 1897

  • No intercollegiate league existed as such during the period spanning from the early 1880s to 1897, although the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) did list a "College Section" in their schedules of 1885, 1886 and 1887; university teams, as well as playing against each other, played in provincial unions and in community leagues

  • Toronto, Queen's University and the Royal Military College (RMC) participated in the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) from 1882 to 1897, Ottawa College (the University of Ottawa) from 1885 to 1893, the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC, later to evolve into the University of Guelph) in 1883, and 1885 to 1887

  • McGill was a founding member of the Quebec Rugby Football Union (QRFU) and competed in that organization from 1883 to 1897, Ottawa College was a member from 1894 to 1904, Bishop's College (later Bishop's University) participated in the league in 1884, 1885, 1889 and 1891

  • The evolution of the Canadian rugby football game from British rugby, is illustrated by the fact that, by the mid-1890s, the eight-man, huddle-like scrum of the latter had evolved to become a ten or eleven-man, laterally extended, line of scrimmage in Canadian rugby football; the front row of the English rugby scrum (the centre or hooker and the two props) had become, on the line of scrimmage, the centre, who heeled the ball to the quarter, and two scrim supports closely supporting and protecting the centre on either side; the second and third (or back) rows of the scrum now lined up laterally on either side of the scrim supports as inside, middle, outside and flying wings with a quarterback, two or three half-backs and a fullback in the backfield

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