This is #7 in a series covering football’s original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
Rule #7 was among the few rugby rules the IFA changed to create football's first set of rules, so let's look at the rugby rule.
Rugby Rule 7: A match shall be decided by the majority of goals but if the number of goals be equal, or if no goal be kicked by a majority of tries, or if no goal be kicked or try obtained, the match shall be drawn. When a goal is kicked from a try, a goal only is scored.
The wording is confusing, but I read it to say the team scoring the most goals wins the game. So if the teams kick the same number of goals, the team scoring the most tries wins, and if the teams have the same number of tries, the game ends in a draw or tie.
How did the IFA alter Rule #7? Here's the IFA rule:
Rule 7: A match shall be decided by the majority of touchdowns; a goal shall be equal to four touchdowns; but in case of a tie a goal kicked from a touchdown shall take precedence over four touchdowns.
To translate, the IFA renamed the "try" and called it a "touchdown." They also awarded the game to the team scoring the most touchdowns, not goals. Nevertheless, kicking the ball over the crossbar -a goal- was worth four times the value of a touchdown, so the primary objective was to kick a goal. Moreover, if Team A scored four touchdowns and Team B scored one goal, the goal-kicking team (Team B) won the game.
Like rugby, the team scoring a try or touchdown had the opportunity for a free kick to attempt to score a goal, a kick known as a goal from touchdown or goal after touchdown that evolved into today's extra point. Teams could also kick goals during play (aka from scrummage or scrimmage), and while the opposing team contested those kicks, they had the same value as the goal after touchdown in 1876.
The equivalency-based scoring system was eliminated in 1883 when football adopted a point-based approach that remains in place today, though the specific point values have changed over time.
For previous stories in the series, click Intro | Rules #1 Drop Kick | #2 Place Kick | #3 Punt | #4 Goal Posts | #5 Goal | #6 Goal ≠ Punt
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