Rutgers Football History – 138 Years Ago Today in New York

Another post by Source showed up on the ScarletNation.com board today which gave further insight to the way football developed as a game. His post is in two parts, first a brief description about the rules meeting that was held 138 years ago today, October 18, then a description of the first game to be played using the new rules that were adopted.

First American Football Rules Conference
October 18, 1873
Fifth Avenue Hotel
New York City

Intercollegiate Football Delegates:

Rutgers: John Searing and Howard Fuller (who would author the alma mater two months later)
Princeton: T.G. Ricketts and I.H. Lionberger
Yale: Peter A. Porter and William H. Halstead
Columbia: couldn’t attend but sent a letter with their wishes
Harvard: did not attend. They played a carrying version they thought no one else would agree to play.

For the first time in American sports, agreement was reached on a dozen rules for college football on October 18, 1873 when Rutgers, Princeton and Yale met in New York City. Among the new rules were: field size (400 ft. by 250 ft.); goal posts (25 feet apart); 20 men a side; six goals to win or at least two scored if game is called early; switching sides after each score; kickoffs 50 yards from goal; no throwing or carrying ball; no tripping, pushing or holding; captains each choose a judge and agree upon one referee; no spikes; and challengers provide a No. 6 ball that becomes property of the victors.

Indeed, these were unique rules. What is more interesting is that several of them remain in use today.

First Game After the First Rules Conference:

October 25, 1873
Yale 3 Rutgers 1
at Hamilton Park, New Haven, CT
Admission Fee: 35 cents
Attendance: 1,000
Referee: John Searing
Judges: R.W. Kelly of Yale, Alexander Johnston of Rutgers (the building at College Ave and Somerset Street is named after him)

The link below will take you to a collector’s page. Scroll down for images of the October 25, 1873 Rutgers-Yale football program. This is the second oldest program in intercollegiate football history. Yale played Columbia in its first (and only) football game in 1872 and issued the first program in the history of college football. It sold at auction a few years ago for $23,900.

The link Source refers to is this one.

The Official First Rules of College Football agreed to were these:

Agreed Upon Rules:

1. The ground shall be 400 feet long and 250 feet broad.

2. The distance between the posts of each goal shall be 25 feet.

3. The number for match games shall be 20 to a side.

4. To win a game 6 goals are necessary, but that side shall be considered victorious which, when the game is called, shall have scored the greatest number of goals, provided that number be 2 or more. To secure a goal the ball must pass between the posts.

5. No player shall throw or carry the ball. Any violation of this regulation shall constitute a foul, and the player so offending shall throw the ball perpendicularly into the air to a height of at least 12 feet and the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the ground.

6. When the ball passes out of bounds it is a foul, and the player causing it shall advance at right angles to the boundary line, 15 paces from the point where the ball went, and shall proceed as in rule 5.

7. No tripping shall be allowed, nor shall any player use his hands to hold or push an adversary.

8. The winner of the toss shall have the choice of the first goal, and the sides shall change goals after every successive inning. In starting the ball it shall be fairly kicked, not “babied”, from a point 150 feet in front of the starter’s goal.

9. Until the ball is kicked no player on either side shall be in advance of a line parallel to the line of his goal and distant from it 150 feet.

10. There shall be two judges, one from each of the contesting colleges, and one referee; all to be chosen by the captains.

11. No player shall wear spikes or iron plates upon his shoes.

12. In all matches a No. 6 ball shall be used, furnished by the challenging side and to become the property of the victor.

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About VigilantKnight

Living life on my terms.
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