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Today's Tidbit… 1876 IFA Rule #33: Pushed Into Touch
This is #33 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
Rule 31 told us the ball remained live when it went out of bounds and became dead only when touched down by a player on either side. Rule 32 describes the procedures for bringing the ball back into play from out of bounds, while Rule 33 takes us back to the issue of the ball going out of bounds but covers those instances when two or more players had hold of the ball when it went into touch.
Rule 33: If two or more players holding the ball are pushed into touch, the ball shall belong in touch to the players who first had hold of it in the field of play and has not released his hold of it.
Modern football seldom sees instances in which more than one player has hold of the ball when it goes out of bounds. This is the case, in part, because four years after enacting Rule 33, football switched from the rugby scrummage to the scrimmage in which one team possessed the ball at the start of each down, so there were fewer scrambles for the ball.
Old-time football was different. It had mauls and maul-ins (Rule 19 and 20) in which one or more players held the ball as teammates pushed and pulled the pile towards or away from the goal line—the rule concerning multiple players holding the ball when it went out of bounds applied to these situations.
Old-time football also had no forward progress rule, and tackling below the waist was illegal. The result was that tacklers often stood up ball carriers during the tackling process and tried to strip them of the ball. Their teammates often joined in, leading to the mauls mentioned above. Of course, even before a maul ensued, the tackler and the ball carrier sometimes went out of bounds as they fought for the ball.
The following several IFA rules also pertain to previously discussed rules. Unfortunately, listing rules in a logical order was not a strength of rugby’s rule makers, and the IFA boys did not take the time to correct those mistakes.
Click the appropriate link for previous stories in the series: Intro | #1 Drop Kick | #2 Place Kick | #3 Punt | #4 Goal Posts | #5 Goal | #6 Goal ≠ Punt | #7 Scoring | #8 Dead Ball | #9 Touchdown | #10 Tackle | #11 Scrimmage | #12 Ball Handling | #13 Dead Ball | #14 Scrimmage Ball Handling | #15 Run In | #16 Goal Line | #17 Boundary Lines | #18 Crying “Down” | #19 Maul In | #20 Maul in Pax | #21 Touch-in Goal | #22 Onside | #23 Offside | #24 Return to Onside | #25 Defensive Offside | #26 Throwing Back | #27 Knocking On | #28 Fair Catch | #29 Punt-out | #30 Punt-On | #31 Into Touch | #32 Inbounding
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