The first football international, Scotland versus England. Once kept by the Rugby Football Union as an early example of rugby football.
During the early 1860s, there were increasing attempts in England to unify and reconcile the various public school games. In 1862, J. C. Thring, who had been one of the driving forces behind the original Cambridge Rules, was a master at Uppingham School and he issued his own rules of what he called „The Simplest Game“ (these are also known as the Uppingham Rules). In early October 1863 another new revised version of the Cambridge Rules was drawn up by a seven member committee representing former pupils from Harrow, Shrewsbury, Eton, Rugby, Marlborough and Westminster.
At the Freemasons‘ Tavern, Great Queen Street, London on the evening of October 26, 1863, representatives of several football clubs in the London Metropolitan area met for the inaugural meeting of The Football Association (FA). The aim of the Association was to establish a single unifying code and regulate the playing of the game among its members. Following the first meeting, the public schools were invited to join the association. All of them declined, except Charterhouse and Uppingham. In total, six meetings of the FA were held between October and December 1863. After the third meeting, a draft set of rules were published. However, at the beginning of the fourth meeting, attention was drawn to the recently published Cambridge Rules of 1863. The Cambridge rules differed from the draft FA rules in two significant areas; namely running with (carrying) the ball and hacking (kicking opposing players in the shins). The two contentious FA rules were as follows:
IX. A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries‘ goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound; but in case of a fair catch, if he makes his mark he shall not run.
X. If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries‘ goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip or hack him, or to wrest the ball from him, but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time.
At the fifth meeting it was proposed that these two rules be removed. Most of the delegates supported this, but F. M. Campbell, the representative from Blackheath and the first FA treasurer, objected. He said: „hacking is the true football“. However, the motion to ban running with the ball in hand and hacking was carried and Blackheath withdrew from the FA. After the final meeting on 8 December, the FA published the „Laws of Football“, the first comprehensive set of rules for the game later known as Association Football. The term „soccer“, in use since the late 19th century, derives from an Oxford University abbreviation of „Association“.
The first FA rules still contained elements that are no longer part of association football, but which are still recognisable in other games (such as Australian football and rugby football): for instance, a player could make a fair catch and claim a mark, which entitled him to a free kick; and if a player touched the ball behind the opponents‘ goal line, his side was entitled to a free kick at goal, from 15 yards (13.5 metres) in front of the goal line.
A rugby scrum in 1871
In Britain, by 1870, there were about 75 clubs playing variations of the Rugby school game. There were also „rugby“ clubs in Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. However, there was no generally accepted set of rules for rugby until 1871, when 21 clubs from London came together to form the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The first official RFU rules were adopted in June 1871. These rules allowed passing the ball. They also included the try, where touching the ball over the line allowed an attempt at goal, though drop-goals from marks and general play, and penalty conversions were still the main form of contest.
North American football codes
History of American football and Canadian football § History
As was the case in Britain, by the early 19th century, North American schools and universities played their own local games, between sides made up of students. For example, students at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire played a game called Old division football, a variant of the association football codes, as early as the 1820s. They remained largely „mob football“ style games, with huge numbers of players attempting to advance the ball into a goal area, often by any means necessary. Rules were simple, violence and injury were common. The violence of these mob-style games led to widespread protests and a decision to abandon them. Yale University, under pressure from the city of New Haven, banned the play of all forms of football in 1860, while Harvard University followed suit in 1861. In its place, two general types of football evolved: „kicking“ games and „running“ (or „carrying“) games. A hybrid of the two, known as the „Boston game“, was played by a group known as the Oneida Football Club. The club, considered by some historians as the first formal football club in the United States, was formed in 1862 by schoolboys who played the „Boston game“ on Boston Common. The game began to return to American college campuses by the late 1860s. The universities of Yale, Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey), Rutgers, and Brown all began playing „kicking“ games during this time. In 1867, Princeton used rules based on those of the English Football Association.
The „Tigers“ of Hamilton, Ontario, circa 1906. Founded 1869 as the Hamilton Foot Ball Club, they eventually merged with the Hamilton Flying Wildcats to form the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a team still active in the Canadian Football League.
In Canada, the first documented football match was a practice game played on November 9, 1861, at University College, University of Toronto (approximately 400 yards west of Queen’s Park). One of the participants in the game involving University of Toronto students was (Sir) William Mulock, later Chancellor of the school. In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland, Frederick A. Bethune, and Christopher Gwynn, one of the founders of Milton, Massachusetts, devised rules based on rugby football. A „running game“, resembling rugby football, was then taken up by the Montreal Football Club in Canada in 1868.
On November 6, 1869, Rutgers faced Princeton in a game that was played with a round ball and, like all early games, used improvised rules. It is usually regarded as the first game of American intercollegiate football.
Modern North American football grew out of a match between McGill University of Montreal, and Harvard University in 1874. During the game, the two teams alternated between the rugby-based rules used by McGill and the Boston Game rules used by Harvard. Within a few years, Harvard had both adopted McGill’s rules and had persuaded other U.S. university teams to do the same. On November 23, 1876, representatives from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia met at the Massasoit Convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, agreeing to adopt most of the Rugby Football Union rules, with some variations.
Rutgers College Football Team, 1882
In 1880, Yale coach Walter Camp, who had become a fixture at the Massasoit House conventions where the rules were debated and changed, devised a number of major innovations. Camp’s two most important rule changes that diverged the American game from rugby was replacing the scrummage with the line of scrimmage and the establishment of the down-and-distance rules. American football still however remained a violent sport where collisions often led to serious injuries and sometimes even death. This led U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to hold a meeting with football representatives from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton on October 9, 1905, urging them to make drastic changes. One rule change introduced in 1906, devised to open up the game and reduce injury, was the introduction of the legal forward pass. Though it was underutilized for years, this proved to be one of the most important rule changes in the establishment of the modern game.
Over the years, Canada absorbed some of the developments in American football in an effort to distinguish it from a more rugby-oriented game. In 1903, the Ontario Rugby Football Union adopted the Burnside rules, which implemented the line of scrimmage and down-and-distance system from American football, among others. Canadian football then implemented the legal forward pass in 1929. American and Canadian football remain different codes, stemming from rule changes that the American side of the border adopted but the Canadian side has not.
The All-Ireland Football Final in Croke Park, 2004.
History of Gaelic football
In the mid-19th century, various traditional football games, referred to collectively as caid, remained popular in Ireland, especially in County Kerry. One observer, Father W. Ferris, described two main forms of caid during this period: the „field game“ in which the object was to put the ball through arch-like goals, formed from the boughs of two trees; and the epic „cross-country game“ which took up most of the daylight hours of a Sunday on which it was played, and was won by one team taking the ball across a parish boundary. „Wrestling“, „holding“ opposing players, and carrying the ball were all allowed.
By the 1870s, Rugby and Association football had started to become popular in Ireland. Trinity College, Dublin was an early stronghold of Rugby (see the Developments in the 1850s section, above). The rules of the English FA were being distributed widely. Traditional forms of caid had begun to give way to a „rough-and-tumble game“ which allowed tripping.
There was no serious attempt to unify and codify Irish varieties of football, until the establishment of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1884. The GAA sought to promote traditional Irish sports, such as hurling and to reject imported games like Rugby and Association football. The first Gaelic football rules were drawn up by Maurice Davin and published in the United Ireland magazine on February 7, 1887. Davin’s rules showed the influence of games such as hurling and a desire to formalise a distinctly Irish code of football. The prime example of this differentiation was the lack of an offside rule (an attribute which, for many years, was shared only by other Irish games like hurling, and by Australian rules football).
Schism in Rugby football
An English cartoon from the 1890s lampooning the divide in rugby football which led to the formation of rugby league. The caricatures are of Rev. Frank Marshall, an arch-opponent of player payments, and James Miller, a long-time opponent of Marshall. The caption reads: Marshall: „Oh, fie, go away naughty boy, I don’t play with boys who can’t afford to take a holiday for football any day they like!“ Miller: „Yes, that’s just you to a T; you’d make it so that no lad whose father wasn’t a millionaire could play at all in a really good team. For my part I see no reason why the men who make the money shouldn’t have a share in the spending of it.“
Further information: History of rugby league
The International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) was founded in 1886, but rifts were beginning to emerge in the code. Professionalism was beginning to creep into the various codes of football.
In England, by the 1890s, a long-standing Rugby Football Union ban on professional players was causing regional tensions within rugby football, as many players in northern England were working class and could not afford to take time off to train, travel, play and recover from injuries. This was not very different from what had occurred ten years earlier in soccer in Northern England but the authorities reacted very differently in the RFU, attempting to alienate the working class support in Northern England. In 1895, following a dispute about a player being paid broken time payments, which replaced wages lost as a result of playing rugby, representatives of the northern clubs met in Huddersfield to form the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU). The new body initially permitted only various types of player wage replacements. However, within two years, NRFU players could be paid, but they were required to have a job outside sport.
The demands of a professional league dictated that rugby had to become a better „spectator“ sport. Within a few years the NRFU rules had started to diverge from the RFU, most notably with the abolition of the line-out. This was followed by the replacement of the ruck with the „play-the-ball ruck“, which allowed a two-player ruck contest between the tackler at marker and the player tackled. Mauls were stopped once the ball carrier was held, being replaced by a play-the ball-ruck. The separate Lancashire and Yorkshire competitions of the NRFU merged in 1901, forming the Northern Rugby League, the first time the name rugby league was used officially in England.
Over time, the RFU form of rugby, played by clubs which remained members of national federations affiliated to the IRFB, became known as rugby union.
Globalisation of association football
History of FIFA
The need for a single body to oversee association football had become apparent by the beginning of the 20th century, with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The English Football Association had chaired many discussions on setting up an international body, but was perceived as making no progress. It fell to associations from seven other European countries: France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, to form an international association. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris on May 21, 1904. Its first president was Robert Guérin. The French name and acronym has remained, even outside French-speaking countries.
Further divergence of the two rugby codes
Rugby league rules diverged significantly from rugby union in 1906, with the reduction of the team from 15 to 13 players. In 1907, a New Zealand professional rugby team toured Australia and Britain, receiving an enthusiastic response, and professional rugby leagues were launched in Australia the following year. However, the rules of professional games varied from one country to another, and negotiations between various national bodies were required to fix the exact rules for each international match. This situation endured until 1948, when at the instigation of the French league, the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) was formed at a meeting in Bordeaux.
During the second half of 20th century, the rules changed further. In 1966, rugby league officials borrowed the American football concept of downs: a team was allowed to retain possession of the ball for four tackles (rugby union retains the original rule that a player who is tackled and brought to the ground must release the ball immediately). The maximum number of tackles was later increased to six (in 1971), and in rugby league this became known as the six tackle rule.
With the advent of full-time professionals in the early 1990s, and the consequent speeding up of the game, the five metre off-side distance between the two teams became 10 metres, and the replacement rule was superseded by various interchange rules, among other changes.
The laws of rugby union also changed during the 20th century, although less significantly than those of rugby league. In particular, goals from marks were abolished, kicks directly into touch from outside the 22 metre line were penalised, new laws were put in place to determine who had possession following an inconclusive ruck or maul, and the lifting of players in line-outs was legalised.
In 1995, rugby union became an „open“ game, that is one which allowed professional players. Although the original dispute between the two codes has now disappeared — and despite the fact that officials from both forms of rugby football have sometimes mentioned the possibility of re-unification — the rules of both codes and their culture have diverged to such an extent that such an event is unlikely in the foreseeable future.