Established as a formal rugby club in 1863, McGill Rugby Football is proud to be the oldest sports club at McGill and one of the first formal rugby clubs in Canada.
In 1865, McGill hosted the first recorded game of rugby in North America against British Army officers and McGill students.
Subsequently, in 1874, McGill proposed a series of matches against Harvard. The first of the two games were to be played in Cambridge, one under Harvard's rules, the other under McGill's rules. The third game would be played in Montreal under McGill's rules.
The first match in Cambridge was played on May 14th, 1874 under the rules of "The Boston Game". Harvard won 3 - 0. The next day the two teams played to a scoreless tie under the McGill rules.
Harvard was so taken by McGill's rules that they adopted them. The two universities have continued this tradition of spring exhibition matches that continues to this day. Below is a photo from the last day of the 1874 series.
Today, McGill is proud to be the reigning champions of Quebec's QSSF Rugby League for the third year running and a dominant side in many of its other matches against other Canadian and American rugby clubs.
Memories of McGill Campus and Rugby from a McGill Alumni c.1876
"I remember the early rugby games against Harvard. About 1876 the Harvard team came to the campus in canvas jackets, which we schoolboys felt was most unfair as the wearers proved slippery to catch. The campus was not flat, but had a surface of rolling waves of ankle-spraining turf for those of us who played British rugby with its permissible hacking in these grand, good-tempered scrimmages."