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Michigan, Notre Dame Renew Rivalry

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Michigan, Notre Dame Renew Rivalry

As far as rivalries go it doesn't get better, or older, than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the University of Michigan Wolverines. Last year saw Michigan come out the winner with an 18-0 final in Ann Arbor and the men from South Bend will be looking to fix last year’s mistakes as they welcome Michigan to Stinson Rugby FIeld this Friday, September 5th with the Jv/Academy sides kicking off at 5:30 and the first team’s at 7:30pm.

This year will see the introduction of the DeHaven & Harless Trophy. The trophy will be contested every year between the rugby squads and celebrate the men who were responsible for introducing 'rugby football' to the two schools.

George Winthrop DeHaven Jr. and William Warren Harless were students of both Notre Dame and Michigan. Upon their relocation to Ann Arbor both become well known for their athletic endeavors. Harless was a champion at the annual 'field day' winning both the shot put and hammer throw as a freshman. While DeHaven was the all campus wrestling champion all four years at Michigan. Looking for a new challenge they tried out for Michigan's rugby football team and instantly fell in love with the rough and tumble sport.

Though the sport was called 'football' at the time it more closely resembled rugby. The structure of the game in 1887 was stilled played under the "Concessionary Rules" that were based of of the English Rugby Union Code with some slight adaptations.

Meanwhile, as DeHaven and Harless emerged as key players for U of M's team they came up with the idea to take the game back to their former campus of Notre Dame. After some deliberation with both schools, it was agreed that Michigan would travel to Notre Dame on Wednesday November 23, 1887 and teach the students of Notre Dame about rugby football.

When the day came, the visit was broken up into two parts; the first part was spent with both school's athletes enjoying each others company. The Michigan players were treated to a campus wide tour which included viewing the schools artwork, rare coins and library. The second part of the day saw both teams suit up in their uniforms and meet on the senior campus field where Michigan went about teaching Notre Dame the game. After a brief tutorial both squads agreed to exchange six players and play a short match. The results weren't important that day so much as the spirit of which the game was played. The day ended with Notre Dame opening one of its massive dining halls and hosting both teams and spectators to a dinner. Right before the Michigan players were to leave and return home, it was agreed that both schools would always welcome each other’s athletes with a game and good company.

It is that spirit of competition and camaraderie, shown by the first two teams, that both rugby programs look to celebrate with the introduction of the DeHaven and Harless Trophy. It is their goal to create a great 'gentlemen's' rivalry that celebrates both school's past and present rugby players. All are welcome to attend and witness the first contest for the DeHaven and Harless Trophy and cheer on one of college sport's oldest competitions.