Laws of Football as played at Rugby School (1859)

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The Laws of Football as played at Rugby  (1859) 
by Rugby School

Laws of football as played at Rugby School, as of 1859. Laws judged to be particular to Rugby School appear to have been omitted. Precise date of adoption uncertain.


1. Kick off from middle must be a place-kick.

2. Kick out must not be from more than twenty-five yards out of goal.

3. Fair catch is a catch direct from the foot, or a knock on from the hand of the opposite side.

4. Charging is fair, in case of a place-kick, as soon as a ball has touched the ground; in case of a kick from a catch, as soon as the player offers to kick, but he may always draw back, unless he has actually touched the ball with his foot.

5. Off side. — A player is off his side when the ball has been kicked, or thrown, or knocked on, or is being run with by any of his own side behind him.

6. A player entering a scrummage on the wrong side, is off his side.

7. A player is off his side when a player on his own side has kicked the ball from behind him, and then run before him.

8. On Side. — A player is on his side when the ball has been kicked, or thrown, or knocked on, or run with (five yards), or when it has touched the body of any player on the opposite side before him, and then run before him.

9. A player being off his side is to consider himself as out of the game, and is not to touch the ball in any case whatever (either in or out of touch), or in any way to interrupt the play, and is of course incapable of holding the ball.

10. Knocking on, as distinguished from throwing on is altogether disallowed under any circumstances whatsoever. In case of this rule being broken, a catch from such a knock on, shall be equivalent to a fair catch.

11. A catch from a throw on, is not a fair catch.

12. If, however, the ball be hit by the arm, and not by the hand, the catch from such a knock on, shall not be considered equivalent to a fair catch.

13. It is no lawful to take the ball off the ground, except in touch, for any purpose whatsoever.

14. It is not lawful to take up the ball when rolling, as distinguished from bounding.

15. In a scrummage succeeding a maul, it is not lawful to touch the ball with the hand, except in the event of a fair catch.

16. First of his side, is the player nearest the ball on his side.

17. Running in is allowed to any player on his side, provided he does not take the ball off the ground, or through touch.

18. Running in.— If, in the case of a run in, the ball be held in a maul, it shall be lawful for a player on the same side to take it from the runner in, provided he has entered the maul behind the runner in.

19. No player out of a maul may be held, or pulled over, unless he is himself holding the ball.

20. Though it is lawful to hold any player in a maul, this holding does not include attempts to throttle or strangle, which are totally opposed to all the principles of the game.

21. That any player obtaining the ball in a maul, do put it down as soon as possible, when outside the twenty-five yard post at either end.

22. No player may be hacked and held at the same time.

23. Hacking with the heel is unfair.

24. Hacking above or on the knee is unfair.

25. No one wearing projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on the soles or heels of his boots or shoes, shall be allowed to play.

26. Trial at Goal.— A ball touched between the goal posts may be brought up to either of them, but not between.

27. The ball when punted must be within, and when caught, without the line of goal.

28. The ball must be place-kicked and not dropped, and if it touch two hands the try will be lost.

29. A goal may be dropped by any player on his side, if the ball has not been touched down in goal.

30. It shall be a goal if the ball go over the bar (whether it touch or no) without having touched the dress or person of any player; but no player may stand on the goal bar to interrupt it going over.

31. No goal may be kicked from touch.

32. Touch.— A ball in touch is dead; consequently the first player on his side must in any case touch it down, bring it to the edge of touch, and throw it straight out, but may take it himself if he can.

33. No player may stop the ball with anything but his own person.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1924, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 98 years or less. This work may 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.