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Today's Tidbit… 1876 IFA Rule #35: No Fair Catch
This is #35 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
Rule 32 told us that one of the methods to bring the ball back into play from in touch was the fair or lineout, while Rule 34 told us that if the throw was not made at a right angle to the touch line, the captain of either team could appeal for a redo. Recall as well that Rule 28 told us that players could far catch the ball under almost any condition in which a player from the opposite side put the ball in the air, so Rule 35 makes an exception to the general rule by telling us:
“A catch made when the ball is thrown out of touch is not a fair catch.”
So, the rule negates the possibility of a team fair catching the ball on a lineout and using the opportunity for a free kick. Presumably, these situations occurred in rugby’s development and were seen as cheap or easy opportunities to score a goal, so they outlawed it.
Of course, the rule-makers eliminated the lineout from football in 1894, and the need for this rule disappeared. On a related note, the rules committee of 1894 also instituted the rule requiring those making a fair catch to signal their intention to do so by raising their hand in the air rather than heeling in. It was among a series of safety-oriented rules that year that had an unintended consequence, which will be discussed in a Tidbit early next week.
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 | #33 Pushed Into Touch | #34 Right Angle Throw Out
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