Laws of the Eton Field Game (1847)

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The Laws of the Eton Field Game
by H. H. Tremayne and A. R. Thompson

Laws of the Eton Field Game, dating from October 1847. [1]


1. The game begins strictly at half past twelve, unless previously agreed on.

2. At the expiration of half the time, goals must be changed, and a bully formed in the middle.

3. Play is to cease at half past one, or punctually at the expiration of the hour agreed on.

4. To prevent dispute it is better to appoint, before the game begins, two umpires: one chosen by each party; and a referee to be agreed on by both parties, whose decision, if the umpires differ, is to be final.

5. It will be the duty of the umpires to enforce the rules: to decide on disputes that arise; to break a rouge or bully, when necessary, and to see fair play for both parties.

6. If a player shall have begun the game and shall be hurt, or otherwise disabled from going on, no substitute may take his place.

7. If a player be not present, when the game begins, no substitute may play, until he comes, but the game must proceed without him.

8. The goal sticks are to be seven feet out of the ground; a goal is gained when the ball is kicked between them provided it is[2] not over the level of the top of them.

9. The space between each goal stick is to be eleven feet.

10. A rouge is obtained by touching the ball first, after it has been kicked behind

11. When a rouge has been obtained the ball must be placed one yard from the centre of the goal; and no player is to touch the ball, or let it rest against his foot, until the player, who has[3] obtained the rouge, has kicked the ball himself.

12. No player may run behind the goal sticks before the ball be kicked behind, either to prevent or obtain a rouge.

13. Should the player, who has prevented the rouge have been behind the ball, a player of the opposite side may touch it, and obtain a rouge.

14. If a ball go behind the goal sticks and without being touched, be kicked before them again, any player of the opposite side, if he can touch it first, may obtain a rouge.

15. If the ball be kicked behind by a cool kick, that is, when no one of the opposite side be bullying the kicker, no rouge, whoever touches it, can be obtained.

16. If a rouge be obtained before the time for leaving off expires, and the time expires, before the rouge is finished, the said rouge must be played out, until either a goal be obtained, or the ball be kicked outside the side sticks, or behind the goal sticks.

17. No rouge, or goal obtained after the time expires is admissible, except in the case of Rule 16.

18. The Bully, or Rouge must be broken, immediately a player falls on the ball, and formed anew.

19. No crawling on the hands and knees with the ball between the legs is allowed.

20. If a player falls on a rouge, or bully, although not on the ball, and calls 'Man Down' or calls for 'Air', the said Bully, or Rouge must be broken, and formed anew.

21. The umpires must use their discretion on the 15th, 18th and 20th Rules: and may make a player get up from the ground, if he has fallen, without breaking the rouge.

22. Hands may only be used to the stop the ball, or touch it when behind. The ball must not be carried, thrown or struck by the hand.

23. A rouge may be obtained by touching the ball, when on the line of the goal sticks.

24. No player, if behind, before the ball, may pick it up, or carry it to one of his own side to touch, but must leave it where it stopped.

25. The ball is dead when outside, or on a line with the side sticks, and must not be kicked.

26. When the Ball is dead, it must be thrown in, or a bully formed parallel to the place where it stopped: these are to take place alternately.

27. If the Ball bounces off a bystander or any other object, outside the line of the side sticks, it may be kicked immediately on coming in.

28. If the Ball, when kicked out, bounds from any object without coming in, it must be put in parallel to the place, where it struck that object.

29. A player is considered to be sneaking when only three, or less than three, of the opposite side are before him and may not kick the ball.

30. One goal outweighs any number of rouges. If each party has an equal number of goals, that party wins, which has the majority of rouges in addition to the goals. If no goals are obtained, the game is decided by rouges.

31. These Rules may be altered and revised in any way by the Keeper of the Field at any future time, with the approbation of the first four choices.

32. Should the decision be equally divided, the first keeper must have the casting vote.

33. No person can keep the field two football terms running unless it is mutually agreed on.

34. No Keeper of the Field can keep the Wall during the same term.

October 1847
H.H. Tremayne
A.R. Thompson


  1. Curry, Graham (2001). Football: A Study in Diffusion. Leicester: University of Leicester. p. 10. 
  2. "be" rather than "is" in original manuscript (Wikisource contributor note)
  3. "has" not present in original manuscript (Wikisource contributor note)

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

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 95 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.