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Notre Dame and Michigan renew their rivalry Friday at Stinson Rugby Field in Notre Dame, Ind., ahead of their schools’ meeting in football. The Fighting Irish and Wolverines have made a habit of playing the week of the annual gridiron meeting. Last year, Michigan beat Notre Dame 18-0 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Notre Dame’s main focus is on the spring, with the Varsity Cup National Championship and the Collegiate Rugby Championship. Michigan, on the other hand, is ramping up for a fall crescendo. The Wolverines are fresh off a 24-15 defeat of Wheeling Jesuit and will begin their Big Ten campaign in a couple of weeks.
Friday will not only see the rivalry played on the impressive one-year-old Stinson Rugby Field for the first time, but also mark the introduction of the DeHaven & Harless Trophy. George Winthrop DeHaven, Jr. and William Warren Harless attended both Notre Dame and Michigan, picking up football in Ann Arbor.
In 1887, during the nascent years of American football, the game was only ambiguously different from rugby. That year, DeHaven and Harless joined Michigan’s varsity football team and traveled to Notre Dame. The Wolverines taught the game to a body of Notre Dame students, swapped players and played a mixed contest.
That game, referred to as rugby in archived news clippings of the time, is considered the beginning of America’s oldest football rivalry. Remembering the influence of rugby in such a hallowed, time-honored piece of Americana, the rugby teams of Michigan and Notre Dame will play for the DeHaven and Harless & Trophy annually.
It’s the latest rivalry trophy established in part by Notre Dame. The Irish have created similar trophies in recent years, including the Parseghian Cup, competed for by Notre Dame and Arizona. Named after Fighting Irish football coach and Arizona resident Ara Parseghian, the contest benefits the medical research foundation in his name.