Today's Tidbit... 1876 IFA Rule #58: Gutta Percha ($)
This is #58 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
A few times, I have complained about the rugby rule-makers inattention to the order of their rules, but today is not one of them. Last week, we covered Rule 57, which concerned hacking or kicking an opponent in the shins, and they followed that up with the only original rule covering the equipment worn by players.
Rule 58: No one wearing projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on any parts of his boots or shoes shall be allowed to play in a match.
The concern about projecting nails did not involve sticking out from the toes of the players' boots. Instead, rugby had the same concern as soccer, as evidenced by the 1866 Football Association Rule 12: "No player shall wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles or heels of his boots." Iron plates referred to toe caps, akin to today's steel-toed boots, and gutta percha was a pre-plastic made from the sap of Malaysian trees used in, among other applications, canes and golf ball cores. Hence, early golf balls were called "gutties."