Monday, January 28, 2013

A Look Back: American Rugby in Print; Stanford Defeats The Waratahs

by Daniel Holzhauer

Stanford Defeats the Australian Team, 13 to 12

The San Francisco Call - by William Unmack, October 17, 1912

This Is American Rugby travels back in time once again and lands on the Pacific Coast for one of the most surprising victories of American rugby's early history. William Unmack of the San Francisco Call writes about the Stanford University rugby club's 1912 victor over the New South Wales Waratahs.

The Waratahs came to North America and racked up ten straight victories, including a 6-0 win over Stanford on October 12th. But the Cardinal varsity team would have another chance the following week and they made the most of the opportunity.

Take the jump to read more.

“The game was wonderful from start to finish, but the second half capped the climax,” wrote Unmack, “The bleachers are often aroused by high class playing, but never in the history of the game here, except at the Stanford-California games, have the bleacherites shown such enthusiasm as was seen at Stanford yesterday.”

The Stanford team, who were happy to keep the ball in the forward pack during their first meeting, opened up the second game with stellar play from their backs that surprised the more experienced Waratahs.

“Stanford played the Australians at their own game and found out the truth of the paradox that 'a team's best defense is its attack,' wrote Unmack, “Attack it was, and the way the Stanford back field got in and started out their splendid passing rallies was something that surprised the Australians.”

The San Francisco Call also included a “special dispatch” from Waratahs Vice Captain Tom Richards that congratulated the Stanford team on their well-earned victory and thanked them for their fair play.

“We knew that you had enough courage and determination to fights a good fight – but really I must confess here that the magnificent manner in which you cleaned up the game today was indeed, a great surprise,” wrote Richards.

The University of California Golden Bears would follow up the Stanford victory by defeating the Waratahs 6-5 later in the month. The match was marred by dirty play, stoppages and less-than-stellar officiating, but the Waratahs took the loss in stride and captain Richards congratulated the Bears on their victory while giving the ref a few pointers.

Unmack would have some unkind words to say about the effort and character of the Waratahs side in his season wrap up. He wrote of dissension amongst the Waratahs and “all night carousals” including “one man [who] actually came on the field in a state of intoxication.”

But undeterred, rugby fans on the Pacific Coast were excited about the college team's success and the growth of high school rugby in California.

“No matter which way you look at it, the season has been without a parallel in Rugby circles in the country,” said Unmack, “and it will be a long time before we see Rugby to surpass, let alone equal, the great series of games that has been played here.”

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