The world’s first football game

The very first modern football games were played in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 14 and 15, 1874 between McGill University and a squad from Harvard.

This “foot-ball” diversion, as Harvard’s Magenta newspaper called it, was still in its infancy, and the rules evolved along with the game. In fact, the Harvard squad enjoyed the Canadian innovations (running with the ball, downs and tackling) so much, they introduced them into a match with Yale the following year – and so college football took root in America. Although the McGill Redbirds and Harvard Crimson no longer butt helmets on the gridiron, the rivalry lives on. The teams compete in an annual rugby match for the Peter Covo Memorial Cup, founded in 1974 in honour of the legendary McGill rugby coach and professor. Harvard may have won that first football game (3-0) back in 1874, but McGill leads the Covo series, having won 24 of 38 games to date.