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Today's Tidbit… IFA Rule #30 Punt-On
This is #30 in a series covering football's original 61 rules adopted by the Intercollegiate Football Association in 1876. We review one rule each Friday.
Last week's Tibit regarding the IFA rules covered the punt-out, which was a punt made from behind the goal line under certain circumstances to gain a more favorable position to attempt a goal after touchdown, now called an extra point. Recall that the punt-out was kicked from behind the goal line or outside the field of play. If a teammate fair caught the punt-out, his team could attempt a free kick on the goal after touchdown.
Rule 30: A punt on is a punt made in a manner similar to a punt-out, and from touch, if necessary, by a player who has made a fair catch from a punt-out or another punt-on.
When the IFA enacted its rules in 1876, the punt-on was already disappearing from some versions of English rugby, and American football soon dropped it as well. However, the Canadians hung onto it for a bit longer. The result of the punt-on's removal from the games is that little information is available about this procedure. So, I'm not sure my explanation is correct, but I'll tell you what I think I know.
In regular play, a fair catch gave the receiving team the option to take a free kick. If the fair catch came close enough to the opponent's goal, the team could attempt a goal from field or field goal. When they were farther back, they could attempt a goal from field, but their more realistic opportunities were to run a play from scrimmage or punt the ball. A punt following a fair catch was a punt-on.
Punt-outs occurred from outside the field of play. A punt-on happened on the field of play, except for special cases when the fair catch came next to the touch line (side line). Like the punt-out, the punt-on had to be made from behind the heel mark and no closer than the heel mark to the opponent's goal, which is why it sometimes was made from in touch or out of bounds.
While confident about the above, the sketchy part comes in the procedures used in the punt-on. Some sources suggest the punting team placed a forward wall immediately behind the heel mark to protect the punter, but whether and why that is the case remains a mystery to me. Either way, the punt-on quickly disappeared from the game, and, best as I can tell, it did not leave any remnants that had a material effect on the game.
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
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