United States First Olympic Gold in Rugby Shows Impactful Family Influence

Grandchildren of 1920 rugby Olympian, Dink Templeton, recount their grandfather’s legacy as they watch current Eagles work towards Olympic qualification.

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As the Men and Women’s Sevens inch closer to Olympic qualification, there is a natural tendency to think back to America’s first rugby appearance in the Olympics – the 1920 Summer games when the United States upset France to win the gold medal. Perhaps no members in the rugby community do this more than the granddaughters of Dink Templeton, one of the Olympic athletes on the US team at that time.

“I love that we have a rugby heritage like this,” said granddaughter, Sarah Quist. “We have children now, and when they wanted to get into the sport, we quickly recounted how positive of a sport rugby is.”

It was fortuitous how Quist’s children became interested in rugby.

“One day we were out running on the track and the rugby coach at the time needed another player to help form the team. So my son said, ‘yeah, I’ll join the team.’ I laughingly told him ‘You know that your great grandfather won an Olympic gold medal for rugby, right?’” she shared.

The great grandchildren of Templeton are just beginning to formulate their understanding of the part their Great Grandfather played in America’s rugby history. 

“You never know. You never know how many generations down the road are going to look at your accomplishments. Here I am with two generations away of kids who started the sport in high school, who now look at the accomplishment of their great grandfather and are trying to learn more about it,” she explained.

Quist’s older sister, Kathy Brisban echoed her sister, “I have great pride knowing that there was an Olympic athlete in the family.”

“Our grandfather always came across as this mythical person to me,” she added. “Everyone in our community knew who Dink Templeton was. It’s clear that it is a lifelong legacy to take part in the Olympics and that grandchildren will remember it with great pride for years to come.”

Today Templeton’s Olympic gold medal continues to inspire the next generation of rugby players by permanently being displayed at Templeton’s old high school.

“Kathy’s mom, my mother-in-law, wanted to donate his medal so that it can always remain part in a local Palo Alto High School where Dink started his success and where he is from” said Brisban husband, Butch Brisban.

Each grandchild mentioned how they wish they could fully immerse themselves in his experience by watching him play firsthand. However, they get an idea of what it was like by watching current Eagles play today.

“We were at a USA Eagles game when I fully stopped to think about the significance of my grandfather going to the Olympic games and winning a gold medal in a game that they were not supposed to win. That is where it fully sinks in.” Quist concluded.

With only a few World Series points left to earn toward Olympic qualification, the Men’s and Women’s Sevens work to remain in the top 4 of the world rankings to secure their shot at leaving a legacy for their country, and family alike.

Tune in May 25-26 to watch the Men’s Sevens (No. 1) compete in the ninth tournament of the ten round HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London as well as June 15-17 when the Women’s Sevens (No. 2) conclude their Olympic qualifying season at the HSBC Biarritz Sevens.