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BROWN'S JOHN MEEKER WITH THE BALL

Jack Kinderdine died at age 80.  His passing will be grieved by friends and family, by Dartmouth 1961 classmates, other Dartmouth alumni, including varsity football and Rugby Club teammates, and by me.

I encountered Kinderdine only one time at the title match for the Eastern Rugby Union (ERU) Championship when Dartmouth met Brown in the end of May 1961.  Both college fifteens were undefeated.

In the fall of 1960, Kinderdine was named All-Ivy League quarterback (the Ivy's leading punter), receiving also an All-American nomination. These were well-deserved gridiron honors, and probably, every athlete in the eight Ivy schools, knew his well-thought-of reputation.

For that 1961 spring rugby season, Ed Lee, head of the ERU, established three divisions (A, B, and C) to promote the first ever playoff for a true Union championship among the eighteen clubs. He ranked the divisions by past rugby experience and proficiency where the top A would receive a first round bye. The second ranked B would meet the third tier C in a one game playoff to advance to the final.

Brown in the B division recorded shutout victories over Westchester, Yale, MIT, and Harvard (Cornell forfeit), winning also a friendly match against New York RFC B team. Villanova, in the C division, beat Boston RFC, Manhattan RFC, Penn, and the newly formed Columbia RFC to win the C title.

The B/C playoff was slotted in Van Cortland Park, NY, where the referee was the legendary Jacko Jackson. Villanova arrived with portable goalposts. The Philadelphia fifteen were lead by senior center Kevin Flynn. Villanova scored first from a roll over, five-meter set scrum, coverted for two points to lead 5-0 at the break. Brown tallied six points in the second period on a penalty and long run to win 6-5.

The week after, Brown hosted the title game in Providence, played on the football field behind Marvel Gym. About 1,500 people attended. A sheet of paper listed the players of the two teams, explained the scoring, and proclaimed the basic rugby rules: “No timeouts. No substitutions. No blocking. No tea breaks."

Dartmouth arrived with ten seniors, five juniors, including two players who had made the 1958/59 England trip, four varsity football players, including Jack Kinderdine at fullback. (Senior Tom Conger, the Big Green's speedy winger and prolific try scorer from Hawaii, was injured and did not suit up.) 

As the game began, Dartmouth proved they were the more experienced side, controlling possession, wheeling scrums, featuring two man lineouts, selling dummies off set plays, and kicking smartly for territory. Four times Dartmouth punted into Brown’s end goal line, and each time, a Brown player touched the ball down. (Me, twice at fullback.) Kinderdine's long kicks all day kept the ball deep into Brown territory. (N.B. Rules then allowed kicking into touch from the entire field.)

In the waning minutes of the second half, Brown’s only break away was stopped by a brilliant, game-saving tackle by Kinderdine. The whistle blew. A tie at 0-0. Both teams would share the 1961 ERU spring championship.

At first, Brown clapped off the visitors. Then Dartmouth clapped Brown. As I exited the Big Green's double line, Kinderdine approached me, saying, "Great game, fullback. Great game." We shook hands. His was an altruistic act of sportsmanship, a voluntary and generous gesture in the true spirit of rugby.  I felt honored then by his charitable remark, and I have cherished the comment ever since. 

Jack Kinderdine (1939-2019), to be remembered in the finest tradition of the sport.