Laws of the Rugby Football Union (1873)
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 opponent's goal, whether it touch such cross-bar, or the posts, or not; but if the ball goes directly over either of the goal-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 goals only.
8. The ball is dead when it rests absolutely motionless on the ground.
9. A Touch down 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 round on their respective sides endeavour 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 to touch 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 until he gets behind his opponent's 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 goal-line, or being tackled immediately outside, is carried or pushed across it, and he or the opposite side, or both, endeavour 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 entire 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 in 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 in 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 him simultaneously they, only, may join in the maul
21. Touch in Goal (see plan). 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 is brought out as provided by Rules 41 and 42.
|Plan of the Field.|
|AA. AA. Goal Lines.||PP. PP. Goal Posts.|
|TT. TT. Touch Lines.||QQ. QQ. Touch in Goal.|
|The Touch Lines and Goal Lines should be cut out of the Turf.|
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 run five yards with, or 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 run, tackle, or otherwise interrupt such player, until he has run five yards.
26. Throwing Back. It is lawful for any player who has the ball to throw it back towards his own goal, or to pass it back to any player of his own side who is at the time behind him, in accordance with 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 so knocked or thrown on, 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 own side touch the ball. (See Rules 43 and 44.)
29. A Punt out is a punt made after a touch down, by a player from behind his opponents' goal line, and from touch in goal, if necessary, towards his own side, who must stand outside the goal-line and endeavour 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. (See Plan). 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 it to 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 (i.) bound it out in the field of play, and then run with it, kick it, or throw it back to his own side; or (ii.) throw it out at right angles to the touch line, or (iii.) walk out with it at right angles to the touch line, any distance not less than five nor 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 been otherwise agreed by the captains before the commencement of the match.
39. The captains of the respective sides shall toss up before the commencement of the match, the winner of the toss shall have the option of choice of goals, or the kick off.
40. Whenever a goal shall have been obtained, the side which has 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-line: 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 kicked out.
43. A player who has made and claimed a fair catch shall thereupon 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 made 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 mark 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 on 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 out.
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 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 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 a 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. The Captains of the respective sides shall be the sole arbiters of all disputes.
- Changes from 1871:
- Law 5: after "without touching" insert "the ground or" (proposed by F. Stokes; seconded by W. F Eaton)
- Law 22: append "No player can be off side in his own goal" (proposed by F. Stokes; seconded by W. F Eaton)