Today's Tidbit... 1876 IFA Rule #61: # Players ($)
This is #61 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We reviewed one rule each Friday since last October.
This is the end, or nearly so.
We will consolidate some thoughts on the original 61 football rules next week, but today, we will focus on the final original rule of the game. Like Rule 60, which defined the field size, Rule 61 was newly created by the IFA. By tradition, rugby players knew the proper field size and did not specify one. They also did not need a rule to tell them there should be fifteen players per side, but the boys on the western side of the Atlantic formalized those traditions and turned them into rules:
Rule 61: The number of players shall be limited to fifteen upon a side.
Whereas scores of players participated in the traditional folk football games, the Princeton-Rutgers soccer matches of 1869 had 25 per side, and the 1874 Harvard-McGill games had 13 and 15 per side, depending on which team's rules they followed. The IFA adopted the rugby standard of playing 15 per side in 1876.