Birthplace of College Football

Birthplace of College Football

A plaque at the College Avenue Gymnasium in New Brunswick honors the participants of the first football game ever played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton.


When Rutgers defeated Princeton 6-4 in the first college football game ever played on Nov. 6, 1869, the setting was quite different than it is today. The game was contested on a field overlooking the Raritan River on the College Avenue Campus in New Brunswick. There weren’t thousands of cheering fans in a multimillion-dollar stadium. There was no manicured grass field or electronic scoreboard. There was no flashy athletic equipment or television coverage. But on that fall day 146 years ago, students established the tradition of football, displaying a competitiveness and vibrant school spirit that continues at Rutgers.

Signs in the current football stadium announce Rutgers as “The Birthplace of College Football.”

The first game was played with two teams of 25 men each under rugby-like rules, but similar to modern football it was “replete with surprise, strategy, prodigies of determination and physical prowess,” according to an account of one of the Rutgers players that day.

At 3 p.m. on that memorable afternoon, the 50 combatants were joined by approximately 100 spectators in close proximity on the field. Most of those assembled sat on a low wooden fence and watched the athletes doff hats, coats, and vests and use suspenders as belts. To distinguish themselves from the bareheaded visitors, 50 Rutgers students — including players — donned scarlet-colored scarfs, which they converted into turbans.

Under the rules in use at the time, each score counted as a “game” and 10 games completed the contest. Following each score, the teams changed direction. The ball could be advanced only by kicking or batting it with the feet, hands, head, or side.

The Hale CenterAn analytical account of the game appeared in a November 1869 issue of the Targum, Rutgers’ daily undergraduate newspaper, which is published to this day: “To sum up, Princeton had the most muscle, but didn’t kick very well, and wanted organization. They evidently don’t like to kick the ball on the ground. Our men, on the other hand, though comparatively weak, ran well, and kicked well throughout. But their great point was the organization, for which great praise is due to the captain. The right men were always in the right place.”

After the first game, football was here to stay. Rutgers got Columbia University started in the gridiron sport the following season and in a few years most of the colleges and universities in the East were represented on the football field.

The Hale Center

Learn more about Rutgers’ storied football history and the modern era when you visit the Hale Center Exhibit, located at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway.


High Point Solutions Stadium, Busch Campus

Rutgers Football Ticket Info

Experience the entire season of R tailgating, R football, and R fun that only Scarlet Knights football can deliver. Fans have various options to enjoy Rutgers football this fall, from full-season tickets to all seven home games to three-game Mini Plans to single game tickets. Fans can also make High Point Solutions Stadium the site for their next group activity. Special savings are available for groups of 20 or more, and all eligible groups receive special scoreboard recognition. Additional group benefits are available through the Rutgers Ticket Office or by calling 1-866-445-GORU (4678).

For all of your 2016 Rutgers football-related ticket needs, contact us.

2016 Rutgers Football Home Schedule

Saturday, Sept. 10 Howard TV Noon EST
Saturday, Sept. 17 New Mexico TV Noon EST
Saturday, Sept. 24 Iowa TBA
Saturday, Oct. 8 Michigan TV 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. EST
Saturday, Oct. 15 Illinois Noon EST
* Homecoming
Saturday, Nov. 5 Indiana TBA
Saturday, Nov. 19 Penn State TV 8 p.m. EST

Phone: Call 1-866-445-GORU (4678) for personal attention from a ticket sales representative.

Athletic Development: Premium Hospitality

Audi Rutgers Club

The Audi Rutgers Club provides football fans with the premier college football game day experience in the Metropolitan area. Amenities include:

  • All-you-can-eat premium buffet, complete with carving stations and an ever-changing array of food choices
  • Two sports bars
  • All the day’s sports action available on 44 high-definition flat-screen plasma TVs
  • Climate controlled club lounge
  • Open-air seating to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of major college football
  • Premier private parking adjacent to stadium

Block R Party at Athlete’s Glen

The Block R Party serves as the focal point of Rutgers Game Day during football home games. Located in scenic Athlete’s Glen opposite the North end of the stadium and steps from the Scarlet Walk, the Block R Party will bring Rutgers fans of all ages together for a festive pre-game celebration of Scarlet Knights football. Attractions include food and beverages, customizable private tent parties, live music, tailgate games, kids’ activities, and more! Admission to the Block R Party is free, so come one, come all, and enjoy everything Rutgers Game Day has to offer!

Party Deck

The Rutgers Party Deck is a covered open-air location adjacent to the pressbox that offers the perfect college football atmosphere to watch the game. Amenities include an all-you-can-eat buffet, cash bar, flat-screen televisions, and dining area. For additional premium hospitality, ticketing, parking options, and to find out about ways to donate or get more involved with Rutgers Athletics:
Phone: 1-866-445-GORU (4678)