Inter-Collegiate Football Rules (1876)
1. A drop kick, or drop, is made by letting the ball fall from the hands and kicking it the very instant it rises.
2. A place kick, or place, is made by kicking the ball after it has been placed in a nick made in the ground for the purpose of keeping it at rest.
3. A punt is made by letting the ball fall from the hands and kicking it before it touches the ground.
4. Each goal shall be composed of two upright posts exceeding 11 feet in height from the ground and placed 18 feet 6 inches apart, with a cross-bar 10 feet from the ground.
5. A goal can only be obtained by kicking the ball from the field of play direct (i.e., without touching the ground or the dress or person of any player of either side), over the cross bar of the opponents' goal. Whether it touch such cross-bar or the posts it is called a poster, and is not a goal.
6. A goal may be obtained by any kind of kick except a punt.
7. A match shall be decided by a majority of touchdowns; a goal shall be equal to four touchdowns; but in case of a tie a goal kicked from a touchdown shall take precedence over four touchdowns.
8. The ball is dead when it rests absolutely motionless on the ground.
9. A touchdown is when a player putting his hand upon the ball on the ground in touch or in goal, stops it so that it remains dead or fairly so.
10. A tackle is when the holder of the ball is held by one or more players of the opposite side.
11. A scrummage takes place when the holder of the ball, being in the field of play, puts it down on the ground in front of him, and all who have closed around on their respective sides endeavor to push their opponents back, and, by kicking the ball, to drive it in the direction of the opposite goal-line.
12. A player may take up the ball whenever it is rolling or bounding except in a scrummage.
13. It is not lawful to take up the ball when dead (except in order to bring it out after it has been touched down in touch or in goal) for any purpose whatever. Whenever the ball shall have been so unlawfully taken up it shall at once be brought back to where it was so taken up and there put down.
14. In a scrummage it is not lawful for the man who has the ball to pick out the ball with the hand under any circumstances whatever.
15. It is lawful for any player who has the ball to run with it, and if he does so it is called a run. If a player runs with the ball and gets behind his opponents' goal-line and there touches it down, it is called a run in.
16. It is lawful to run in anywhere across the goal-line.
17. The goal-line is in goal and the touch-line is in touch.
18. In the event of any player holding or running with the ball being tackled and the ball fairly held, he must at once cry down, and there put it down.
19. A maul-in-goal is when the holder of the ball is tackled inside the goal-line, or, being tackled immediately outside, is carried or pushed across it, and he, or the opposite side, or both, endeavor to touch the ball down. In all cases the ball when so touched down shall belong to the players of the side who first had possession of it before the maul commenced, unless the opposite side have gained complete possession of it.
20. In case of a maul-in-goal those players only who are touching the ball with their hands when it crosses the goal-line may continue the maul-in-goal, and when a player has once released his hold of the ball after it is inside the goal-line he may not again join the maul, and if he attempts to do so, may be dragged out by the opposite side; but if a player when running in is tackled inside the goal-line, then only the player who first tackled him, or if two or more tackle simultaneously, they only may join in the maul.
21. Touch-in-goal. Immediately the ball, whether in the hands of a player (except for the purpose of a punt-out — see Rule 29) or not, goes into touch in goal, it is at once dead and out of the game, and must be brought out as provided by Rules 41 and 42.
22. Every player is on side, but is put off side if he enters a scrummage from his opponents' side, or, being in a scrummage, gets in front of the ball, or when the ball has been kicked, touched, or is being run with by any of his own side behind him (i.e., between himself and his own goal-line). No player can be off side in his own goal.
23. Every player when off side is out of the game and shall not touch the ball in any case whatever, either in or out of touch or goal, or in any way interrupt or obstruct any player, until he is again on side.
24. A player being off side is put on side when the ball has been kicked by, or has touched the dress or person of, any player of the opposite side, or when one of his own side has run in front of him, either with the ball or having kicked it when behind him.
25. When a player has the ball none of his opponents who at the time are off side may commence or attempt to tackle or otherwise interrupt such player.
26. Throwing Back. It is lawful for any player who has the ball to throw it backward toward his own goal, or to pass it back to any player of his side who is at the time behind him in accordance wiih the rules of on side.
27 Knocking on, i.e., deliberately hitting the ball with the hand, and throwing forward, i. e., throwing the ball in the direction of the opponents' goal-line, are not lawful. If the ball be either knocked on or thrown forward, the captain of the opposite side may (unless a fair catch has been made as provided by the next rule) require to have it brought back to the spot where it was knocked on or thrown forward, and there put down.
28. A fair catch is a catch made direct from a kick or a throw forward, or a knock on by one of the opposite side, or from a punt-out or a punt-on (see Rules 29 and 30), provided the catcher makes a mark with his heel at the spot where he has made the catch and no other of his side touch the ball. (See Rules 43 and 44.)
29. A punt-out is a punt made after a touchdown by a player from behind his opponents' goal, and from touch in goal if necessary, toward his own side, who must stand outside the goal-line and endeavor to make a fair catch, or to get the ball and run in or drop a goal. (See Rules 49 and 51.)
30. A punt-on is a punt made in a manner similar to a punt-out, and from touch, if necessary, by a player who has made a fair catch from a punt out or another punt on.
31. Touch. If the ball goes into touch, the first player on his side who touches it down must bring it to the spot where it crossed the touch-line; or if a player when running with the ball cross or put any part of either foot across the touch-line, he must return with the ball to the spot where the line was so crossed and thence return into the field of play in one of the modes provided by the following rule.
32. He must then himself, or by one of his own side, either bound the ball out in the field of play and then run with it, kick it, or throw it back to his own side; or throw it out at right angles to the touch-line; or walk out with it at right angles to the touch-line any distance not less than five or more than fifteen yards, and there put it down, first declaring how far he intends to walk out.
33. If two or more players holding the ball are pushed into touch the ball shall belong in touch to the player who first had hold of it when in the field of play and has not released his hold of it.
34. If the ball when thrown out of touch, be not thrown out at right angles to the touch-line, the captain of either side may at once claim to have it thrown out again.
35. A catch made when the ball is thrown out of touch is not a fair catch.
36. Kick-off is a place kick from the centre of the field of play and cannot count as a goal. The opposite side must stand at least ten yards in front of the ball until it has been kicked.
37. The ball shall be kicked off (i) at the commencement of the game, (ii) after a goal has been obtained.
38. The sides shall change goals as often as and whenever a goal is obtained, unless it has otherwise been agreed by the captains before the commencement of the match.
39. The captains of the respective sides shall toss up before commencement of the match; the winner of the toss shall have the option of the choice of goals or of kick-off.
40. Whenever a goal has been obtained the side which lost the goal shall then kick-off.
41. Kick-out is a drop kick by one of the players of the side which has had to touch the ball down in their own goal, or into whose touch in goal the ball has gone (Rule 21), and is the mode of bringing the ball again into play, and cannot count as a goal.
42. Kick-out must be a drop kick and from not more than twenty-five yards outside the kicker's goal; if the ball when kicked out pitch in touch it must be taken back and kicked out again. The kicker's side must be behind the ball when it is kicked.
43. A player who has made and claimed a fair catch shall therfore either take a drop kick or a punt or place the ball for a place kick.
44. After a fair catch has been made the opposite side may come up to the catcher's mark, and except in cases under Rule 50, the catcher's side retiring, the ball shall be kicked from such mark or from a spot any distance behind it.
45. A player may touch the ball down in his own goal at any time.
46. A side having touched the ball down in their opponents' goal shall try at goal either by a place kick or a punt-out.
47. If a try at goal be by a place kick, a player of the side which has touched the ball down shall bring it up to the goal-line (subject to Rule 48) in a straight line from and opposite to, the spot where the ball was touched down, and there make a mark on the goal-line and thence walk straight out with it at right angles to the goal-line, such distance as he thinks proper, and there place it for another of his side to kick. The kicker's side must be behind the ball when it is kicked and the opposite side must remain behind their goal-line until the ball has been placed on the ground. (See Rules 54 and 55.)
48. If the ball has been touched down between the goal-posts, it may be brought out in a straight line from either of such posts, but if brought out from between them the opposite side may charge at once. (See Rule 54.)
49. If the try at goal be by a punt-out (see Rule 29), a player of the side which has touched the ball down shall bring it straight up to the goal-line opposite to the spot where it was touched down, and there make a mark on the goal-line, and then punt out from touch in goal if necessary, or from any part behind the goal-line not nearer to the goal-post than such mark, beyond which it is not lawful for the opposite side, (who must keep behind their goal-line) to pass until the ball has been kicked. (See Rules 54 and 55.)
50. If a fair catch be made from a punt-out or a punt-on, the catcher may either proceed as provided by Rules 43 and 44, or himself take a punt-on, in which case the mark made in making the fair catch shall be regarded (for the purpose of determining as well the position of the player who makes the punt-on as of the other players of both sides) as the mark made on the goal-line in the case of a punt-out.
51. A catch made in touch from a punt-out or a punt-on is not a fair catch; the ball must then be taken or thrown out of touch as provided by Rule 32. But if the catch be made in touch in goal the ball is at once dead and must be kicked out as provided by Rules 41 and 42.
52. When the ball has been touched down in the opponents' goal, none of the side in whose goal it has been so touched down shall touch it or in any way displace it or interfere with the player of the other side who may be taking it up or not.
53. The ball is dead whenever a goal has been obtained, but if a try at goal be not successful, the kick shall be considered as only an ordinary kick in the course of the game.
54. Charging, i.e., rushing forward to kick the ball or tackle a player, is lawful for the opposite side in all cases of a place-kick after a fair catch, or upon a try at goal immediately the ball touches the ground or is placed on the ground; and in cases of a drop kick or punt after a fair catch, as soon as the player having the ball commences to run or offers to kick, or the ball has touched the ground; but he may always draw back, and unless he has dropped the ball or actually touched it with his foot, they must again retire to his mark (see Rule 56). The opposite side in the case of a punt-out or a punt-on, and the kicker's side in all cases, may not charge until the ball has been kicked.
55. If a player having the ball, when about to punt it out goes outside of the goal-line, or when about to punt-on advances nearer to his own goal-line than his mark, made on making the fair catch, or if after the ball has been touched down in the opponents' goal, or a fair catch has been made, more than one player of the side which has so touched it down or made the fair catch, touch the ball before it is again kicked, the opposite side may charge at once.
56. In cases of a fair catch the opposite side may come up to and charge from anywhere on or behind a line drawn through the mark made by the player who has made the catch and parallel to their own goal-line; but in the case of a fair catch from punt-out or a punt on, they may not advance further in the direction of the touch-line nearest to such mark than a line drawn through such mark to their goal-line, and parallel to such touch-line. In all cases, except a punt-out and a punt-on, the kicker's side must be behind the ball when it is kicked, but may not charge until it has been kicked.
57. No hacking or hacking over or tripping up shall be allowed under any circumstances.
58. No one wearing projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on any part of his boots or shoes shall be allowed to play in a match.
59. There shall be two judges, one for each side, and also a referee, to whom disputed points shall be referred, and whose decision shall be final.
60. The grounds shall be 140 yards long and 70 yards wide.
61. The number of players shall be limited to fifteen upon a side.
- Changes from Rugby Football Union laws of 1873:
- The plan of the field of play, and references to it, are omitted throughout.
- Law 7: replace "A match shall be decided by a majority of goals only" with "A match shall be decided by a majority of touchdowns; a goal shall be equal to four touchdowns; but in case of a tie a goal kicked from a touchdown shall take precedence over four touchdowns".
- Law 14: replace "it is not lawful to touch the ball" with "it is not lawful for the man who has the ball to pick out the ball".
- Law 15: replace "If a player runs with the ball until he gets behind his opponent's goal-line" with "If a player runs with the ball and gets behind his opponents' goal-line".
- Law 19: replace "inside goal line" with "inside the goal-line".
- Law 19: replace "gained entire possession" with "gained complete possession".
- Law 20: replace "tackle him simultaneously" with "tackle simultaneously".
- Law 24: replace "A player being off side is put on side when the ball has been run five yards with or kicked" with "A player being off side is put on side when the ball has been kicked".
- Law 25: replace "none of his opponents who at the time are off side may commence or attempt to run, tackle, or otherwise interrupt such player until he has run five yards" with "none of his opponents who at the time are off side may commence or attempt to tackle or otherwise interrupt such player".
- Law 26: replace "throw it back towards his own goal" with "throw it backward toward his own goal".
- Law 26: replace "his own side" with "his side".
- Law 27: replace "knocked or thrown on" with "knocked on or thrown forward".
- Law 28: replace "of his own side" with "of his side".
- Law 29: replace "behind his opponents' goal-line" with "behind his opponents' goal".
- Law 29: replace "towards" with "toward".
- Law 31: replace "return it to the field of play" with "return into the field of play".
- Law 38: replace "has been otherwise" with "has otherwise been".
- Law 39: replace "choice of goals or the kick-off" with "choice of goals of of kick-off".
- Law 40: replace "shall have" with "has".
- Law 40: replace "has lost" with "lost".
- Law 42: replace "the kicker's goal-line" with "the kicker's goal".
- Law 42: replace "must be behind the ball when kicked out" with "must be behind the ball when it is kicked".
- Law 43: replace "thereupon" with "therefore".
- Law 47: replace "If a try at goal be made by a place-kick" with "If a try at goal be by a place kick".
- Law 49: replace "beyond which mark" with "beyond which".
- Law 50: replace "on making the fair catch" with "in making the fair catch".
- Law 52: replace "taking it up or out" with "taking it up or not".
- Law 54: replace "immediately the ball touches or is placed on the ground" with "immediately the ball touches the ground or is placed on the ground".
- Law 55: replace "outside the goal-line" with "outside of the goal-line".
- Law 59: replace "The captains of the respective sides shall be sole arbiters of all disputes" with "There shall be two judges, one for each side, and also a referee, to whom disputed points shall be referred, and whose decision shall be final".
- Law 60: add new law "The grounds shall be 140 yards long and 70 yards wide".
- Law 61: add new law "The number of players shall be limited to fifteen upon a side".
- Thus in source. The following line of text from the original Rugby Football Union laws appears to have been inadvertently omitted: "or not; but if the ball goes directly over either of the goal posts" (Wikisource contributor note)
- "into" in source: Rugby Union laws have "it to" (Wikisource contributor note)