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Colby Edward "Babe" Slater


He was born on 30th April 1896 the youngest son on John Slater and Louise (nee Chenery). His father, who was born in Scotland , was a sea captain and died in 1908 after contracting a fever at Delagoa Bay in South Africa on the ship Charmer. He was educated at Berkeley High School and the University of California , Davies.


Above Colby and his brother Norman in the 1913 Berkeley High School Rugby XV. Interscholastic Champions of California . 1 Boulware, (Coach), 2 Hills, 3 Haynes, 4 Reimers, 5 Johnson, 6 H.Vilas, 7 C.Slater, 8 N.Slater, 9 Shuman, 10 Anderson, 11 S.Forbes, 12 W.Montgomery, 13 Laser, 14 R.Forbes, 15 Mackie, 16 Valentine (Manager), 17 Carlton, 18 R.Vilas, 19 Clopton, 20 Knowles (Captain), 21 D.Montgomery, 22 Bond.


Above Berkeley High School rear view of building showing toppled chimneys after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.


Upon graduation in 1917, “Babe” enlisted in the United States Army and served with the Medical Corps in France and Belgium during World War I. After the war, he raised sheep, hogs, and feed in Woodland , CA .


Colby E. "Babe" Slater (1896-1965) was the first University of California , Davis alumnus to win an Olympic gold medal. Slater graduated from the University Farm School (now the University of California , Davis ) in 1917.


Slater played on the U.S. Olympic Rugby Team and won gold medals for rugby in 1920 and 1924. At the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, he captained the inexperienced U.S. Rugby Team which beat France in the final to win the gold. The disappointed French fans rioted in the stands and since that time rugby has not been an Olympic event.


Above Colby Edward Slater


Colby Slater only played in two internationals for the USA in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic finals against France . In the second match he was captain.


Above the 1920 US Olympic Team (L-R) Back Row: Wallace, Patrick, O’Neil, Fish, J Muldoon, Fitzpatrick, Slater, Righter.  Middle Row: Meehan, Hazeltine, Maloney (trainer), Tilden (c), Carroll (pl/coach), W Muldoon, von Schmidt, Scholz. Front Row: Wrenn, Doe, Hunter, Davis, Winston. Missing: Templeton, Kirksey


Above the USA squad training in England before Olympic Games in Paris . Photo taken at Plymouth Rugby Club. Back Row (L-R): Sam Goodman (Manager), Valentine, Cashel, Williams, B, Slater (Cpt), Farish, Clark, Patrick, N. Slater, DeGroot, Charles Austin (Coach) Middle Row: Graff, Turkington, Deveraux, Mannelli, Doe, Cunningham, Dixon . Front Row: Rogers, Hyland, Hunter, O'Neill, Cleveland, Muldoon, Scholz.


Above the 1924 US team with American soprano Luella Melius, mascot and Colby at the front.


Above Colombes stadium, Paris 1924


His brother Norman also appeared in the 1924 USA side.


After returning from the Olympic Games, Slater bought land in Clarksburg , California , where he farmed for many years.


Above a 1960s Slater reunion (L-R) Norman , Marguerite, James Herbert & Colby (image courtesy of James Edward Slater and Daniella Thompson)


He died on 30th January 1965 in Clarksburg , California .

Above his two gold medals. Now on show at the entrance to the Activities and Recreation Centre at the University of California , Davies.



The Slater-Irving connection was sealed in Paraffine


Inventory of the Colby E. Slater Collection at University of California;jsessionid=5Nkya10RBy6KdocU?docId=kt5p3020w9&


Captain Slater’s house is an early Classic Colonial


Rugby at the Olympics


Above cover of book For The Glory


For The Glory. Mark Ryan. Published September 2009

ISBN 978-1-906779-25-2


For The Glory is the true story of Babe Slater and Rudy Scholz. Opposites in many ways, they starred in the US Olympic rugby teams that shocked the world by winning gold medals at the Antwerp Games of 1920 and the Paris Games of 1924.

It required nerve for quiet farmer Babe to return to Belgium just two years after witnessing the horrors of World War One. Rudy had been desperate to play a part in that war but had missed out on the action.

There was more frustration for little Scholz, by now a silver-tongued lawyer, when gentle giant Slater was elected 1924 US rugby captain ahead of him. Rudy didn’t even want to play in the Paris showdown against the French favourites at the so-called ‘Chariots of Fire’ games.

What happened to bring Rudy back into line just before the French turned the 1924 Olympic final into a bloody riot? How did Scholz cope when he was finally confronted by the horrors of war on Okinawa during World War Two, and how did he manage to play rugby until he was 83?

Read about the extraordinary experiences of Rudy and Babe, then decide for yourself where the glory lies – in sport or war.

Mark Ryan is a writer and sports journalist. His books include Justine Henin: From Tragedy to Triumph and Fabio Capello: The Man, The Dream, The Inside Story, both published by JR Books, as well as The Hornet’s Sting: The Amazing Untold Story of Second World War Spy Thomas Sneum.


© Patrick Casey, 2011
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