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In the autumn of 1958, two celebrated American athlete scholars began their Rhodes Scholarships. Both had been outstanding undergraduate football players, one had been a top varsity hockey player, while the other had been a champion collegiate boxer. One played for his American college’s rugby XV, while the other had never played the sport.
When they arrived that fall at Oxford, both played rugby for their respective colleges. Both would win Blues competing against Cambridge. The former rugger in the States would win his coveted Blue at boxing, while the hockey player would win his at rugby.
Their names are famous: The Rhodes Scholar from little Pomona College in California is Kris Kristofferson (Claremont Colleges RFC), while the other student is West Point’s Pete Dawkins, Heisman Award winner of 1958 and first-team Oxford rugger for three-years.
Kristofferson, summa cum laude, was the starting end on the football team, a Golden Gloves boxer, and winner of four of the twenty prizes in the Atlantic magazine short-story writing contest for university students.
Kristofferson played rugby Merton College at Oxford, while Dawkins played for Brasenose, before making the fast rugby advance from college side, to Greyhounds (Second team), to the Varsity.
Kristofferson received a B.Phil degree in English literature, and enlisted in the Army, rising to the rank of captain. (His father was a Major General.).
He would have an outstanding singing and acting career.
There is no historic reference that he played rugby after his Merton College days.