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Gentlemen or louts?

This content was published on March 18, 2008 - 09:59

The rules of modern football were codified in England in 1863 by adopting rules from Cambridge University and formed the basis of the first Football Association. But how did football and rugby become different? It was down to the quality of the pitch, the Frenchman Philippe Villemus wrote in Le Dieu football (The Football God) (Ed. Eyrolles). "The difference between the games of rugby and football was born out of a variety of terrains on which one practised the 'dribbling game'. When there were grass lawns, the tackles, close one-on-ones or scrum were almost 'danger free'. In the colleges the game therefore developed towards rugby. Elsewhere, the schoolyards were concrete or paved. Falls could lead to frequent accidents. These conditions were reflected in the particular rules of each establishment. That point also marked the start of the distinction between football, 'the gentleman's sport practised by louts', and rugby, 'the lout's sport practised by gentlemen'."

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