Six Sports That Britain Made Its Mark On – Part 3
In 1848, at the esteemed Cambridge University, football’s first modern rules were being drawn up by ex-pupils of a large number of the country’s more well-known public schools. Men from Winchester, Shrewsbury, Rugby, Harrow, and Eton spent eight hours thrashing out what were later termed the Cambridge Rules. These laws, however, weren’t widely accepted away from universities and public schools.
In 1863, the Football Association was established. There was much debate before an agreement was reached (some reacted strongly to the idea of a ban on kicking players in the shin). The Laws of Football were published after some six meetings. Britain wrote the book in football- with regards to the rules, at least- just as it did with numerous other sports.
It’s been argued by a number of sporting historians that golf was born in the either the Netherlands or China. Scotland, however, has a strong claim as the modern game’s birthplace. The first mention of golf on record dates back to Scotland and a 1457 Act of Parliament. King James 11 actually banned it as it distracted from archery practice. There were further bids to ban golf as it became more and more popular and not every single monarch took issue with it. The first official golf match on record, in fact, took place between the Earl of Bothwell and King James IV in 1504.
The game’s rules were noted down by the Company of Gentleman Golfers in 1744. It wasn’t until late in the 18th century, however, that golf really began to take off across the country, with Scotland being more accessible for those living in other parts of Brian, thanks to the railway. Queen Victoria’s passion for everything Scottish also helped to make the game a fashionable endeavour.
Boxing is perhaps the best example of Britain’s contribution to the codification of sport. While the Marquess of Queensberry Rules often spring to mind, they were preceded by another boxing innovator by over a century. “Prize-fighting” enjoyed popularity in Britain in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.
The early bouts had very few rules, sometimes none at all, and both were dangerous and chaotic. Notable competitor Jack Broughton decided that he wanted to bring some order to the sport and introduced seven rules in 1743, including offering boxer’s protection when on the ground, and so banned the act of seizing a boxer “by the ham, the breeches or any part below the waist”.
Broughton’s rules for the sport were developed further in 1838 when the London Prize Ring Rules were established, and punching and biting below the belt, along with head-butting, were banned. Almost three decades later, the rules we associate today with boxing were documented.
While they’re referred to as the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, Joan Chambers was the one who actually wrote these new rules, along with the Marquess as patron. The regulations from 1867 included the mention of “fair-size” gloves, which are a fundamental part of the rules of boxing even now.