Cambridge Rules (1856)

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1. This Club shall be called the "University Football Club."

2. At the commencement of the play the ball shall be kicked off from the middle of the ground: after every goal there shall be a kick-off in the same way.

3. After a goal the losing side shall kick off, the sides changing goals unless a previous arrangement be made to the contrary.

4. The ball is out when it has passed the line of the flag posts on either side of the ground, in which case it shall be thrown in straight.

5. The ball is behind when it has passed the goal on either side of it.

6. When the ball is behind it shall be brought forward at the place where it left the ground, not more than ten paces, and kicked off.

7. Goal is when the ball is kicked through the flag posts and under the string.

8. When a player catches the ball directly from the foot he may kick it as he can without running with it. In no other case may the ball be touched with the hands, except to stop it.

9. If the ball has passed a player, and has come from the direction of his own goal, he may not touch it till the other side have kicked it, unless there are more than three of the other side before him. No player is allowed to loiter between the ball and the adversaries' goal.

10. In no case is holding a player, pushing with hands, or tripping up allowed. Any player may prevent another from getting to the ball by any means consistent with the above rule.

11. Every match shall be decided by a majority of goals.


H. Snow
J. C. Harkness Eton.

J. Hales
E. Smith Rugby.

G. Perry
F. G. Sykes University.

W. H. Stone
W. J. Hope-Edwards Harrow.

E. L. Horne
H. M. Luckock Shrewsbury.

December 9th, 1857.[2]


  1. Harvey, Adrian (2005). Football: The First Hundred Years. London: Routledge. p. 41. 
  2. Note: although this copy is dated 1857, the source confirms that the laws actually date from 1856. See also Curry and Dunning, Association Football: A Study in Figurational Sociology, pp. 71-2

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1924, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.