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The Modern Rules still resemble the first codified rules of 1863.
THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY RULES NOVEMBER 1863
Differences with the modern game
In addition to the simplicity of the Cambridge Rules, there are several other important differences with the game of football we know today.
Although there were usually 11 players, there was no rule to stipulate this, or even that the two sides should have equal numbers. In fact, it was not uncommon for games to be played with unequal numbers.
The goals consisted of two uprights with no crossbar. A goal could be scored if the ball passed between them at whatever height in the same way as a conversion kick in rugby.
The off side rule was the same as in rugby ie if a player was in front of the ball, he was off side, so no forward passes to team mates were possible. This meant that members of the same side formed up behind and on either side the player with the ball a tactic called 'backing up'.
Players could not catch the ball, but could stop it with their hands. When the ball was kicked over the goal line whichever team touched it down first got a free kick 25 yards in from where it was touched down. If the attacking team achieved such a 'touch down', it represented an excellent opportunity to score a goal.
There were no throw-ins: the ball was kicked back in from where it was first stopped.
All shoulder barging was fair and it was therefore possible to barge a player who was in possession of the ball, rather than going for the ball itself. Likewise, on 50/50 balls, players shoulder barged in a much more aggressive way than would occur in today's game.
Although the position of goalkeeper seemed to have existed, the player concerned played by the same rules as his team mates, all of whom may have kept goal if the need arose, probably similar to the 'rush goalie' principle.
Text Borrowed from www.cambridgefootballrules.org.uk.
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This page was last updated 01/31/09 by E. Cowart.