Cambridge Rules

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The codification of the laws of the game of football (soccer), initially in 1848 and revised in the mid 1850s, and then articulated in the Cambridge University rules, drawn up by a committee of Trinity College football enthusiasts convened in October 1863, and published the following month. In these rules, harmony was sought and compromise reached between different conventions of play that had characterized the football codes of the different public schools that the players at the university had attended, such as Eton, Harrow, Westminster, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, and Rugby. Undergraduates had played a version of football in a Cambridge University team since the early 1840s, playing matches on Parker's Piece in the south of the city, and as the game grew more popular, standardization was required so that players from different traditions and colleges could accept a single set of laws. The 1863 rules became the basis of the modern game (rather than the Sheffield Rules that had been developed in the industrial football culture of Sheffield, in Yorkshire). They were developed coterminously with the foundation of the FA (Football Association) at a meeting in London at the end of October 1863, where all the representatives of clubs ‘were strongly in favour of Eton-Harrow-Cambridge principles; that is of the “dribbling game”’, Percy M. Young writes (A History of British Football, 1968). Although these club representatives did not negotiate adequately with the football-playing public schools and with Cambridge, and took no account of the provincial model in Sheffield, it was the Cambridge model and its maturation into the Association code that was to prevail and confirm the framework for what became recognizably the sport of modern football (soccer).

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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