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AMERICAN FOOTBALL VS RUGBY

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                                                                                                                                                                                AMERICAN FOOTBALL     


                                              VS

RUGBY FOOTBALL

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

I

INTRODUCTION

     American Football is a game played on a rectangular field by two opposing teams with an inflated leather ball that is roughly oval in shape. The object of the game is to score points by carrying the ball across the opponent’s goal line or by kicking the ball through the opponent’s goal posts. Football is considered a full-contact sport, meaning that play involves bodily contact by way of checking, blocking, grabbing, and tackling. Because of the rough physical nature of the game, playing football can cause injuries.

     American football is a distinct type of football that developed in the United States in the 19th century. It developed from soccer (association football) and rugby football. American football differs slightly in rules and field size from a style of football played mostly in Canada, called Canadian football.

     Played by professionals and amateurs (generally male high school and college students), football is one of the most popular American sports, attracting thousands of participants and millions of spectators annually. The sport’s premier event is the championship game of the

     National Football League (NFL), which is called the Super Bowl. Held each January, the game is attended by more than 60,000 fans and watched by more than 130 million television viewers in the United States.

II

FIELD

American Football Field

The football field, sometimes called the gridiron, measures 120 yd (110 m) in length and 160 ft (about 49 m) in width. The 100-yd-long main body of the playing field is divided horizontally in 5-yd intervals with hash marks delineating individual yards. Areas used for scoring, called end zones, are located at each end of the field.

    Football can be played on a variety of surfaces, including grass, dirt, and artificial turf. An NFL-regulation playing field measures 120 yd (110 m) long and 53 yd 1 ft (48.8 m) wide. At both ends of the 100-yd main body of the playing field, white lines called goal lines mark off the entrances to the end zones, which are 10 yd (9 m) deep. Each team defends one end zone. To score, a team must carry, pass, or kick the ball into the opponent’s end zone. Lines parallel to the end zones cross the main body of the field at 5-yd (4.5-m) intervals. These lines give the field a resemblance to a large gridiron. Sets of lines called the sidelines run along both sides of the field. In addition, two sets of short lines, called hash marks, run down the field at 1 yd (.9 m) intervals. The hash marks are 53 ft 4 in (16.3 m) from each sideline in college and high school football, and 70 ft 9 in (21.6 m) from each sideline in the NFL. After each play, the officials place the ball either between the hash marks or on the hash mark closest to the end of the previous play. The next play begins from that spot.

     Situated in the middle of the rear line of each end zone are goalposts, consisting of a 10-ft (3-m) vertical pole topped by a horizontal crossbar. Two vertical posts extend up from the crossbar, 18 ft 6 in (5.6 m) apart. Kickers score extra points (worth one point) and field goals (worth three points) by kicking the ball above the crossbar and between the posts.

III

PLAYERS

     Football is played by two opposing teams, each fielding 11 players. Each team tries to move the ball down the field to score in the end zone defended by its opponents. During a football game the teams are designated as the offensive team (the team in possession of the ball) and the defensive team (the team defending a goal line against the offensive team). Another group of players, called special teams, enter the game when possession of the ball changes, or when a field goal or extra point is attempted. At the professional level, players usually specialize at one position. At colleges and high schools, players sometimes play both offense and defense, or play on special teams in addition to their regular position.

A

Offense

     The 11 players of the offensive team work together to move the ball downfield toward their opponent’s end zone. They are divided into two groups: seven linemen, who play on the line of scrimmage (an imaginary line designating the position of the ball) and a backfield of four players, called backs, who stand in various positions behind the linemen. The lineman who is positioned in the middle of the line is called the center. On his left is the left guard and on his right is the right guard. On the left of the left guard is the left tackle, and on the right of the right guard is the right tackle. On the ends of the line are the tight end and the split end.

     The center begins each play by hiking the ball, or passing it between his legs from a crouched position to the player standing directly behind him. (This action is also referred to as the snap.) After the ball is hiked on a running play, the center, guards, and tackles block defenders to create an open path for the ball carrier. On passing plays the linemen protect the quarterback and give him time to throw. Tight ends and split ends can block opponents, but they may also catch the ball during a passing play.

     The back who usually stands directly behind the center and receives the snap is known as the quarterback. The quarterback directs the play of the offensive team by calling out each play. The quarterback may hand off the ball, pass it, or run with it downfield.

     In a balanced backfield formation, or T-formation, the fullback stands behind the quarterback, and the left and right halfbacks stand to either side of the fullback. When the quarterback hands the ball off to one of these backs, that player rushes, or runs with the ball. Backs also block when the quarterback throws a pass. Many passes go to wide receivers, players who replace backs or ends and line up on the line of scrimmage but wide of the rest of the formation. They run down the field in planned pass routes to catch balls thrown by the quarterback.

B

Defense

 

   The defensive players work together to prevent the offense from scoring. A row of linemen called the defensive line position themselves at the line of scrimmage; a row of linebackers position themselves about 5 yd (4.6 m) behind the defensive line; and a collection of defensive backs, called the secondary, stand on the end of the defensive line and behind the linebackers.

     The defensive line can use any number of players, but most teams use three or four linemen. Defensive linemen principally are responsible for stopping the opposition’s rushing attack and, in passing situations, putting pressure on the quarterback. Depending on the situation, linebackers stop runners, pressure the quarterback, or cover the opposition’s receivers. Teams usually employ three or four linebackers. The secondary is composed of cornerbacks and safeties. These players cover receivers, tackle rushers who break down the field, and pressure the quarterback. The secondary commonly consists of two cornerbacks who defend the wide receivers and two safeties who guard the area behind the linebackers.

C

Special Teams

     Each team has players who enter the game during special plays such as kickoffs, field goals, punts, and returns. The kicker kicks off at the beginning of a game or half, and after his team has scored. The kicker also scores points for the offensive team by kicking the ball through the goalpost uprights; these scores are called field goals. When the offensive team must surrender the ball to the opponents, a punter comes in to kick the ball downfield as far as possible toward the opponent’s end zone. One player on the return team catches the kickoff or punt and runs upfield while the other return team players block for him. The return team tries to give the offense good starting field position.

IV

OFFICIALS

     .

Football Hand Signals

Football hand signals are often symbolic of the decision being given; for example, to signal a holding penalty, an official holds one wrist firmly with the other hand. Although the referee usually gives the signals, they can be given by any of the game officials.

     A team of officials supervises play in a regulation game. Professional and major college football programs use seven officials: a referee, an umpire, a linesman, a field judge, a back judge, a line judge, and a side judge. The officials carry whistles and yellow penalty flags. They blow the whistles or throw the flags to indicate that an infraction of the rules has occurred.

     The referee is in charge of the game at all levels of play. The referee supervises the other officials, decides on all matters not under other officials’ specific jurisdiction, and enforces penalties. The referee indicates when the ball is dead or out of play, and when it may again be put into play. The referee uses hand signals to indicate these specific decisions and penalties. The referee also makes all final decisions regarding instant replay, when a questionable call is reviewed on videotape.

     The umpire makes decisions on questions concerning the players’ equipment, their conduct, and their positioning. The principal duty of the linesman is to mark the position of the ball at the end of each play. The linesman has assistants who measure distances gained or lost, using a device consisting of two vertical markers connected by a chain or cord 10 yd (9 m) long. The linesman must also watch for violations of the rule requiring players to remain in certain positions before the ball is put into play. The field judge times the game, using a stopwatch for this purpose. In some cases, the stadium scoreboard has a clock that is considered official.

V

EQUIPMENT

     A football is an extended spheroid with a circumference of 28.5 in (72.4 cm) around the long axis and 21.25 in (54 cm) around the short axis. It weighs between 14 and 15 oz (397 and 425 g). Most balls are tan-colored and have a white ring around each end. These rings help receivers and other players see the ball and its rotation during passing plays. The football also has eight stitches that protrude from one side. They help quarterbacks and other players grip the ball when throwing a pass or running with the ball.

     Each football player wears a uniform that includes a numbered jersey. Beneath the jersey and pants each player also wears a set of gear collectively known as pads. The pads protect the player from bodily contact that may occur during the game. Most pads are made of lightweight foam and hard plastic shells that cover the thighs, hips, shoulders, and knees. On grass fields players wear spiked shoes, called cleats, which provide traction. On Astroturf, players usually wear shoes specially designed to grip the playing field and absorb the shock of the hard surface.

     Every player wears a helmet to protect the face, head, and ears. The helmet consists of a durable plastic shell and a set of foam pads that cushion the head. A plastic strap attaches to each side of the helmet below the ears and runs underneath the player’s chin. This strap keeps the helmet in place when the player is hit. The helmet also has holes near each ear to allow the player to hear. On the front of each helmet is a plastic-coated piece of metal called a facemask, which protects the player but also allows him to see. Lineman and linebackers usually have larger and more extensive facemasks because they do the majority of blocking and tackling. Backs and secondary players usually have more open facemasks that provide a wider field of vision. It is illegal during any point of the game to grab an opponent’s facemask.

VI

PLAY

   

Don Shula

In 1972, under the direction of American coach Don Shula, the Miami Dolphins became the first team in National Football League (NFL) history to finish the regular season undefeated, with 17 wins. In 1993 while still coaching the Dolphins, Shula became the winningest coach in NFL history.

 A regulation football game is divided into four quarters, each consisting of 15 minutes of playing time. The first two periods constitute the first half of a game; the second two make up the second half. Between the halves, a rest period, usually lasting about 15 minutes, is permitted. The teams change halves of the field at the end of each quarter. The clocks stop at the end of each quarter and at certain other times, when particular events occur or when designated by the officials.

A

Kickoff

     At the beginning of each game, the referee tosses a coin in the presence of the two team captains to determine which team kicks off and which receives the kickoff. At the start of the second half, the team that kicked off in the first half receives the kickoff.

     During an NFL regulation game the kickoff is made from the kicking team’s 30-yard line. (During a college game the ball is kicked from the 35-yard line.) The kicking team lines up at or behind the ball, while the opponents spread out over their territory in a formation calculated to help them to catch the ball and run it back effectively. If the kick stays within the boundaries of the field, any player on the receiving team may catch the ball, or pick it up on a bounce, and run with it. As the player runs, the player may be tackled by any opponent and stopped; this is known as being downed. The player carrying the ball is considered downed when one knee touches the ground. Tacklers use their hands and arms to stop opponents and throw them to the ground. After the ball carrier is stopped, the referee blows a whistle to stop play and places the ball on the spot where the runner was downed. Play also stops when the ball carrier runs out of bounds.

B

Running a Play

  

The T-formation

The T-formation is one of football’s basic and most versatile offensive formations. In this formation, the tackles, guards, and center align to protect the quarterback, while the ends line up on the outside to block or receive a pass. The halfbacks and fullback line up behind the quarterback in preparation for a possible handoff.

  Offensive plays in football are run from a set formation known as a scrimmage. Before a scrimmage begins, the team on offense usually gathers in a circle, called a huddle, and discusses the play it will use. A coach either signals the play choice to the team from the sidelines, sends a play in with a player, or the team’s quarterback chooses from among the dozens of preset plays that the team has prepared. The defensive team also forms a huddle and discusses its next attempt to slow the offense. Each play is designated by code numbers or words, called signals. After the teams come out of their respective huddles, they line up opposite each other on the line of scrimmage. If the quarterback analyzes the defensive alignment and decides that the chosen play should be changed, the quarterback can call an audible and shout the coded directions for a new play. The defense can adjust its formation at this point as well.

     Play begins when the center crouches over the ball and, on a spoken signal, hikes it to the quarterback. Based upon the chosen play, the quarterback can pass the ball, hand it off to a teammate, or run with it. During the scrimmage, the players on the offensive team may block the defenders using their bodies, but they are constrained by specific rules regarding the use of their hands or arms. The player running with the ball, however, is allowed to use an arm to push off potential tacklers.

     Perhaps the most exciting offensive play is the forward pass, in which the ball is thrown downfield. The quarterback nearly always throws the ball, and backs, ends, and wide receivers may catch it. A forward pass may be made only during scrimmage, and then only from behind the line of scrimmage. A lateral pass (throwing the ball backwards or on a line parallel to the line of scrimmage) may be made anywhere on the field to anyone anytime the ball is in play.

   

Standard Defensive Formations

In the three-four defense the positioning of four linebackers provides extra coverage of possible pass receivers. This defense is frequently used when a pass is expected. Another standard scheme is the four-three defense. The use of four linemen (ends and tackles), three linebackers, and four defensive backs (cornerbacks and safeties) creates a balanced defense capable of stopping either the rush or the pass.

     The defending team tries to keep the offense from advancing the ball, or to stop the offense for a loss by tackling the ball carrier before the ball carrier reaches the line of scrimmage. The offense must advance the ball at least 10 yards in four tries, called downs. After each play, the teams huddle and then line up again and a new scrimmage takes place. If the team on offense fails to travel 10 yards in four downs, it must surrender the ball to its opponent after the fourth down.

     A team will often punt on fourth down if it has not gained at least 10 yards in its previous three tries. In punting, the punter receives the snap, drops the ball, and kicks it before it touches the ground. By punting, a team can send the ball away from its own end zone before surrendering possession of it, thus weakening the opponent’s field position.

     The defense can also gain possession of the ball by recovering a fumble or making an interception. A fumble occurs when a player in possession of the ball drops it before being tackled and downed. Other players can then fall on top of or pick up the loose ball. An interception occurs when one of the defensive players catches a ball thrown by the offensive team. The defensive player who gains a fumble or interception may run with the ball toward the opponent’s end zone until being tackled and downed or forced out of bounds.

C

Scoring

 The object of the game is to score more points than the opposing team. A team scores a touchdown when one of its players carries the ball into the opposing team’s end zone or catches a pass in the end zone. A touchdown is worth six points. After a team has scored a touchdown, it tries for an extra-point conversion. This is an opportunity to score an additional one or two points. In college football the offensive team lines up at the opponent’s three-yard line and runs, passes, or kicks the ball. A running or passing conversion in which the ball crosses the goal line counts for two points. A kick, in which one player receives the snap and holds the ball upright on the ground for a teammate to kick between the goalposts and over the crossbar, counts for one point. In professional football, the offensive team lines up two yards from the goal line during an extra-point conversion. Just as in the college game, one or two points may be scored depending on the conversion method used.

     On offense, teams may also attempt to score by kicking a field goal, which counts for three points. For a successful field goal, the ball must be kicked between the goalposts and over the crossbar. Teams usually try for a field goal when they have the ball on the fourth down and are within about 35 yards of the end zone. After each field goal and extra-point conversion, the scoring team must kick off to its opponents.

     Two points are awarded to the defensive team for making a safety. A safety occurs when a play ends and the offensive team has possession of the ball behind its own goal line. When the offensive team suffers a safety, it must punt the ball to the opponents to restart play. In certain situations, such as after receiving a kickoff, the offensive team is permitted to down the ball behind its line intentionally. This play, called a touchback, does not count in the scoring. Instead the ball is moved to the receiving team’s 20-yard line, where the offensive team puts the ball back in play.

     In college football, a game that ends in a tie is decided by a tiebreaker played in an overtime period. One team begins an offensive series on the opponent’s 25-yard line. The team’s possession ends when it scores, turns the ball over, or fails to convert a fourth-down play. The other team then receives the same chance to score. The team that is leading at the end of the overtime period wins the game. Additional overtime periods can be played if the teams fail to break the tie. In case of a tie in an exhibition or regular-season professional game, the teams play an overtime period, known as sudden death, in which the first team to score is declared the winner. If neither team has scored at the end of this 15-minute overtime period, then the tie is allowed to stand. In professional playoff games no ties are allowed, and the teams play until one scores.

VII

AMATEUR COMPETITION

     Each year more than 20 million people play some form of amateur football. Levels include programs for young boys and girls, junior high and high school competition, college intramural and intercollegiate play, and informal adult leagues. Intercollegiate contests are attended by more than 35 million spectators each year. Most organized amateur play takes place from September through January.

A

High School and College Football

     More than 1 million high school athletes play football in the United States. The majority of these athletes are boys; however, some girls also participate in the sport. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), located in Indianapolis, Indiana, governs high school football. The NFHS does not crown a national champion. Instead, high school teams compete to win their state championship, with each state having its own guidelines for determining titles. Most states have several state champions, each in a category determined by school size. The most talented high school players may receive scholarships to attend and play football in college.

     Football is one of the most popular college sports in the United States. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), located in Indianapolis, is the most important organization governing major college competition. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, oversees competition for smaller four-year schools. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, governs play for two-year and community colleges throughout the country. Under the jurisdiction of these national governing bodies are individual conferences and leagues based on school size and regional location. Well-known NCAA conferences include the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten (northern Midwest), the Big 12 (Midwest), the Pacific-10 (Western states), the Southeastern Conference, and the Ivy League (Northeast). Many university stadiums hold more than 50,000 spectators; a few hold more than 100,000.

     Some of the most accomplished players in college football history include Jim Thorpe of the Carlisle Indian School; George Gipp of the University of Notre Dame; Red Grange of the University of Illinois; Tom Harmon of the University of Michigan; Doak Walker of Southern Methodist University; Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard, the so-called Touchdown Twins of Army (the U.S. Military Academy); Joe Namath of the University of Alabama; Walter Payton of Jackson State University; Tony Dorsett of the University of Pittsburgh; Joe Montana of the University of Notre Dame; Marcus Allen of the University of Southern California; Jerry Rice of Mississippi Valley State University; and Bo Jackson of Auburn University.

B

Heisman Trophy and Other Awards

     After each college season, the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City presents the Heisman Trophy to the top college football player in the United States. Four players are nominated for the award, and a poll of sportswriters determines the winner. The award is named after John William Heisman, an outstanding early college football coach who is credited with several modern innovations, such as the center-quarterback snap and the forward pass. The trophy was first awarded in 1935, and although any position player can win it, the Heisman winner is usually a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver. Winners of the Heisman Trophy who went on to excel in professional football include Paul Hornung, Roger Staubach, Earl Campbell, and Barry Sanders.

     Several other awards are given to the nation’s best player at specific positions. These include the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award for the best lineman, the Butkus Award for the best linebacker, and the Thorpe Award for the best defensive back.

C

Bowl Games and National Championship

    

College teams generally play 11 or 12 games during the fall. The best college teams are awarded trips to so-called bowl games, which match outstanding teams in specially arranged contests. The tradition began in 1902 at Pasadena, California, when Stanford University invited the University of Michigan to come to California for a New Year’s Day contest. This event soon became the celebrated Rose Bowl game. Today, hundreds of thousands of fans travel to bowl games to watch their favorite teams play. In addition to the Rose Bowl, notable bowl games include the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas; the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona; the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida; and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana. Major corporations now sponsor many of the bowls.

     The top division of college football remains the only level of NCAA sport that does not have a national championship tournament. The lucrative bowl system has been the biggest impediment to adopting a championship tournament like those held for lower-division NCAA football. Before the 1998 college season, the champion college team was selected by national polls of coaches and sportswriters. During some years, several teams posted similar win-loss records, causing debates over which team should be crowned the national champion. In 1998 the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was instituted to determine the Division I national champion.

     During the season the BCS ranks each team using a complex system. The system takes into account four factors: the team’s win-loss record; the strength of its scheduled opponents; polls of coaches and sportswriters; and a ranking derived by combining and comparing several different computerized rankings. Based on the BCS regular-season ranking, teams are invited to play in various bowl games. The top two teams play in the BCS championship game, which rotates each year among the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose Bowls. The winner of this game is crowned the national champion.

VIII

PROFESSIONAL COMPETITION

     The major professional league in the world is the National Football League (NFL). Over the years, however, several other leagues have formed in North America and Europe, playing regulation football or a modified version of the sport.



A

National Football League

                         

The NFL consists of 31 teams that are divided into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC), each of which has three divisions. The NFL season is played during the late summer, through autumn, and into January. Professional teams play 4 exhibition games, followed by 16 regular-season games. Teams play one game each week, using the time between games to recover, practice, and prepare for the next game. Each team receives one week without a game, known as a bye, during the season.

     At the end of the regular season, each conference holds separate playoff games to determine the conference champion. The top team in each division automatically qualifies for the conference playoffs and is ranked number one through three based on its win-loss record. Three additional teams, called wild cards, also qualify for playoff berths based on their win-loss record in the conference. During the first round of the playoffs, the lowest-ranked wild-card team plays the lowest-ranked division champion, while the other two wild-card teams play each other. The losers are eliminated and the winner of each game advances to play one of the remaining division champions in the semifinals. Semifinal winners advance to the conference finals, and the winner of that game is declared the conference champion.

     The Super Bowl is the final contest of the NFL’s season. Held each January, it pits the AFC and NFC champions against each other. The Super Bowl reaches hundreds of millions of viewers around the world. The first Super Bowl took place in 1967, when there were actually two separate football leagues, the NFL and the American Football League (AFL). In this game, the Green Bay Packers of the NFL defeated the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL in what was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The game was renamed the Super Bowl in 1969.

     Every April the NFL conducts its amateur draft, in which each team obtains the rights to the professional services of the best college players. Any player who is three seasons out of high school qualifies for the NFL draft if that player renounces college football eligibility by early January. To determine the draft order the NFL goes by the win-loss records of the previous season, so that teams with poorer records draft earlier than those with better records. The NFL draft consists of seven rounds. Those players not selected in the draft can be invited to try out for a team and are sometimes signed to contracts as free agents.

     The NFL is a big business for players, owners, advertisers, and other industries tied to the sport. NFL franchises generate huge revenues for host cities, in addition to promoting civic pride and national exposure. Thus, cities often compete for teams, offering prospective teams bigger and better stadiums, guaranteed fan support, and various economic incentives. In the 1980s three NFL teams relocated: the Oakland Raiders moved from Oakland, California, to Los Angeles in 1982; the Colts moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Indianapolis, Indiana, and became the Indianapolis Colts in 1984; and the Cardinals moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Phoenix, Arizona, and became the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988 (later changed to Arizona Cardinals). Several other moves occurred in the 1990s. In 1995 the Los Angeles Rams became the St. Louis Rams when they moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis, and the Raiders returned to Oakland. The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1996; the team was renamed the Baltimore Ravens. In 1997 the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Tennessee Titans. Other teams have agreed to stay in their home cities only with the promise of new facilities.

     New teams are periodically accepted into the NFL, and there is usually fierce competition among cities to be selected as the home for a new team. In 1995 two of these expansion teams began play: the Carolina Panthers, in Charlotte, North Carolina; and the Jacksonville Jaguars, in Jacksonville, Florida. A new Cleveland Browns franchise began play in 1999. The next expansion was scheduled for 2002, when the Houston Texans will begin play.

B

Other Leagues

 

Arena Football

Inspired by indoor soccer, the Arena Football League (AFL) began play in 1987 and has steadily expanded. A smaller field and rules that are different from standard American football make the game high-scoring and fast-paced. In this game, the Los Angeles Avengers defeated the Carolina Cobras, 58-50.

     Besides the NFL, other early professional football leagues in North America included the  Canadian Football League (see Football, Canadian); the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), which played from 1946 to 1949; and the American Football League (AFL), which played from 1960 to 1969. The AAFC and the AFL ceased to exist when they merged with the NFL. From 1983 to 1985 the United States Football League (USFL) tried to compete with the NFL by playing in the spring and summer, but it folded after the 1985 campaign.

     In 1991 the World League of American Football was formed with the intention of fostering interest in American football and the NFL in Europe. The league had teams in European and North American cities, but suspended play after the 1992 season. It restarted in 1995 as NFL Europe, with teams only from European cities. NFL Europe has proved to be an effective training ground for prospective NFL players, offering valuable playing time that NFL teams cannot provide.

     In the late 1990s the Arena Football League gained increased popularity. The league, which began play in 1987, features high-scoring indoor football on a field half the length of an NFL field, with teams of eight players each. There are several other major differences between arena football and regulation NFL football. For example, punting is not allowed—on fourth down teams must go for a first down, a touchdown, or a field goal. Also, the fields have nets set up beyond both end zones. The defensive team can play a missed field goal off the net, and the receiving team on a kickoff can do the same. In addition, a forward pass that bounces off the net is in play until it hits the ground. In the year 2000, the popularity of arena football led to the formation of Arena Football 2, an expansion league. In early 2001 a new NFL rival, the Extreme Football League (XFL), began play. This league used different rules to make the game faster paced and more exciting, but poor television ratings caused it to fold after one season.

IX

HISTORY

     The forerunner of American football may have been a game played by the ancient Greeks, called harpaston. In this game there was no limit to the number of players. The object was to move a ball across a goal line by kicking it, throwing it, or running with it. Classical literature contains detailed accounts of the game, including its rougher elements, such as ferocious tackling.

     Most modern versions of football originated in England, where a form of the game was known in the 12th century. In subsequent centuries football became so popular that various English monarchs, including Edward II and Henry VI, forbade the game because it took interest away from the military sport of archery. By the middle of the 19th century, football had split into two distinct entities. Still popular today, these two sports were soccer and rugby. American football evolved from these two sports. The sport called soccer in the United States is still known as football throughout much of the world.

A

Early College Football

     Most football historians agree that the first organized football game took place on November 6, 1869, when teams from Rutgers and Princeton universities met in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In the early games, each team used 25 players at a time. By 1873 the number was reduced to 20 players, and by 1876 it was further reduced to 15 players. In 1880 Yale coach Walter Camp set the number at 11 players. He also created the quarterback position and the system of downs.

     In the early 1900s college football games were popular sports spectacles, but the professional game attracted limited public support. College games were extremely rough, and many injuries and some deaths occurred. Educators considered dropping the sport despite its popularity on campuses, and United States president Theodore Roosevelt, an ardent advocate of strenuous sports, declared that the game must be made safer. As a result, football authorities revamped the game, and many of the rougher tactics were outlawed.

     College coaches such as Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Bob Zuppke, and Knute Rockne developed many of the early offensive techniques and play formations. Following very few historical precedents, these men invented unique strategies that changed the nature of football forever.

Stagg was instrumental in developing the between-the-legs snap from center to quarterback, the player in motion in the backfield before the snap of the ball, the onsides kick, the early T-formation, and many other innovations. In 1906 Warner unbalanced his line, placing four players on one side of the center and two on the other side, while shifting the backfield into a wing formation. The quarterback functioned as a blocker, set close behind the line and a yard wide of the center. At the same depth, but outside the line, was the wingback. Deep in the backfield was the tailback, who received most of the snaps, and in front and to the side was the fullback. This formation became known as the single-wing, and it remained football’s basic formation until the 1940s.

     Coach Zuppke ran single- and double-wing formations at the University of Illinois, often sending four or five receivers downfield in pass patterns. At Notre Dame in 1923 and 1924, Rockne instituted his famous Four Horsemen offense. Rockne set up the backs in a four-square, box alignment on one side. Then, in what was called the Notre Dame Shift, the backs would shift out of the box and into a single or double wing.

B

Rise of the Professional Game

     The first professional football game in the United States took place in 1895 in the town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, between a team representing Latrobe and a team from Jeannette, Pennsylvania. In the following years many professional teams were formed, including the Duquesnes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Olympics of McKeesport, Pennsylvania; the Bulldogs of Canton, Ohio; and the team of Massillon, Ohio. Noted college players who took up the professional game during its early years include Willie Heston (formerly at the University of Michigan), Fritz Pollard (Brown University), and Jim Thorpe (Carlisle Indian School).

     The first league of professional football teams was the American Professional Football Association, formed in 1920. The admission fee was $100 per team. The teams pledged not to use any student player who still had college eligibility left, as the goodwill of the colleges was believed to be essential to the survival of the professional league. Thorpe, a player-coach for one of the teams, became president of the league during its first year.

   

 The American Professional Football Association gave way in 1922 to the NFL. Red Grange, the famous halfback from the University of Illinois, provided a tremendous stimulus for the league when he joined the Chicago Bears in 1925 and toured the United States that year and the next. His exciting play drew large crowds. Thereafter, professional football attracted larger numbers of first-rate college players, and the increased patronage made the league economically viable.

     Strategically, the early NFL game was hardly distinguishable from college football of the time. There was no attempt to break away from college playbooks or rulebooks, and for several years the NFL followed the NCAA Rules Committee recommendations. In the league’s early years, players considered the low-paying NFL a part-time job and held other jobs during the day. Thus, while college coaches could drill their players daily for hours, professional football coaches arranged practices in the evenings, sometimes only three or four times a week.

     The popularity of the professional game slowly began to equal its college rival after the NFL instituted its first player draft in 1936. As many talented college players opted to play in the NFL, the professional game also drew more fans. The Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Giants were some of the league’s dominant teams during the period. Outstanding players included running back Cliff Battles, quarterback Sammy Baugh, running back Tony Canadeo, and receiver Don Hutson. The Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II (1939-1945), however, drained many of the early professional franchises of money and players.

     After World War II, college teams were allowed free substitution of players—that is, a player could enter and leave the game an unlimited number of times, as long as the ball was not in play during the substitution. This feature of the game led to the modern two-platoon system, in which one group of 11 players enters the game to play offense and a second group enters to play defense. The trend toward platoons crossed over to the professional game.

     In 1946 the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was established as a rival to the NFL. The new league included the New York Yankees, the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis Colts), and the Los Angeles Dons. The most powerful team in the new league was the Cleveland Browns, coached by football innovator Paul Brown.

     Although talented, the quarterbacks of the 1930s and early 1940s seldom completed more than 50 percent of their passes. A major cause of these low percentages was the primitive nature of pass-blocking strategies. With little protection, passers always had to throw while avoiding incoming rushers. Brown installed a blocking system that radically transformed the passing game. He changed the system by arranging the linemen in the form of a cup that pushed most pass-rushers to the outside and provided a safe area, called a pocket, from which the quarterback could pass. Using the strategy, Brown coached Cleveland to four AAFC championships from 1946 to 1949.

     In 1950 the Browns, 49ers, and Colts joined the NFL in a merger of the two leagues. The move ushered in a period of popularity and prosperity. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s players such as quarterbacks Norm Van Brocklin, Y. A. Tittle, and Johnny Unitas; receiver Tom Fears; running back Jim Brown; defensive back Tom Landry; linebacker Ray Nitschke; and all-around standout Frank Gifford ignited the league and attracted fans. During the period a select group of franchises won NFL championships, including Cleveland (1950, 1954, 1955), Detroit (1952, 1953, 1957), and Baltimore (1958, 1959). The advent of television helped to popularize the professional game when in 1956 the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) began to broadcast select games.

C

New Forces in the 1960s

     In 1960 the Packers reached the NFL championship game but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. Nevertheless, the game signaled the rise of the Green Bay franchise under head coach Vince Lombardi. An intimidating and motivating individual, Lombardi led Green Bay to the NFL title the following year and added two more NFL championships in 1962 and 1965.

     Seeing that a profit could be made from professional football, Texas businessman Lamar Hunt formed the American Football League (AFL) in 1960 as a rival to the NFL. Teams in the new league included the Houston Oilers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Jets. The two leagues fought bitterly for players, media attention, and profits. Standouts in the new league such as Jack Kemp, Lance Alworth, and Joe Namath helped the AFL establish itself on par with the NFL.

     In 1966 the two leagues agreed on a merger plan. The first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, featuring the AFL-champion Chiefs and the NFL-champion Packers, was played in January 1967. The Packers won the contest, later renamed Super Bowl I, 35-10. In 1968 the Packers defeated the AFL’s Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II, but the game validated the AFL’s talent. In 1969 the AFL’s Jets defeated the Colts in a huge upset in Super Bowl III. In 1970, the leagues merged into two 13-team conferences under the NFL name. The Browns, Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers joined the 10 AFL teams to form the AFC, and the remaining NFL teams formed the NFC.

D

The 1970s

     During the early 1970s offensive play suffered as result of complex defensive strategies. Three coaches in particular, Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys, Chuck Noll of the Steelers, and Don Shula of the Miami Dolphins, created defensive tactics that closed passing lanes and forced offenses to rely on running the ball. The shift resulted in defensive units with names such as the Doomsday Defense of the Cowboys, the Steelers’ Steel Curtain, the Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters, and the Los Angeles Rams’ Fearsome Foursome. In 1972 Miami’s unheralded defense teamed with a celebrated offense led by quarterbacks Bob Griese and Earl Morrall, and the Dolphins compiled a record of 14 wins and 0 losses—becoming the only team to finish a NFL regular season undefeated. Following their perfect season Miami won Super Bowl VII.

     In an attempt to maintain public interest in the game during the early 1970s, NFL administrators brought the hash marks in closer to the center of the field to give offenses more room to throw wide passes. The move, which increased scoring and made the game more exciting, also helped bolster the running game. In 1972 ten NFL runners gained more than 1,000 yards in one season for the first time in history. During the next season, Buffalo Bills running back O. J. Simpson rushed for more than 2,000 yards, the first time a player had gained that many yards in a single season.

     Quarterbacks such as the Cowboys’ Roger Staubach and the Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw quickly developed playing styles that took advantage of the openness of the field created by the rule change. Both quarterbacks developed aggressive passing attacks that depended on pinpoint accuracy. During the mid- to late 1970s and early 1980s, an intense rivalry between Dallas and Pittsburgh drew fans to the game. Pittsburgh won four Super Bowls (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980), while Dallas won in 1978. The Steelers’ 1979 victory over the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII is considered one of the most memorable games in the sport’s history.

     Television continued to play a role in the popularization of the game, and in 1970 the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) created Monday Night Football, hosted by former quarterback Don Meredith and commentators Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell. After one season former NFL player Frank Gifford replaced Jackson. Each week during the regular season the show featured a popular match-up. It was an instant success and became one of television’s longest-running sports programs. After Meredith and Cosell retired, a number of former NFL players served as announcers on the show, including Dan Dierdorf, Fran Tarkenton, O. J. Simpson, and Lynn Swann.

E

The 1980s

     

The San Francisco 49ers were the dominant team of the 1980s, as quarterback Joe Montana keyed the team to four Super Bowl victories (1982, 1985, 1989, 1990). Montana, who benefited from good blocking protection, read defenses well and could pass while scrambling away from tacklers. His favorite receiver was Jerry Rice, who eventually became the NFL career leader in career touchdowns. Other powerful teams during the 1980s included the Chicago Bears, the Washington Redskins, and the Raiders, who moved from Oakland to Los Angeles after the 1981 season, and back to Oakland after the 1994 season.

     In the mid-1980s a new type of defensive player emerged. While speedy defensive backs covered equally fast wide receivers, a player called the rush-linebacker emerged with one specialized duty: pressuring the quarterback. With no pass-coverage responsibilities, the fast and strong rush-linebacker focused his attention on the quarterback and the running backs.           The New York Giants’ Lawrence Taylor, perhaps the best player of all time at this position, led New York to a Super Bowl victory in 1987.

     The late 1980s saw players pushing to improve their labor situation. In 1989 the threat of a lawsuit caused the NFL to change its original policy and allow college underclassmen to enter the draft. Juniors and third-year sophomores are now eligible, and many college stars turn professional before exhausting their college eligibility.

     Free agency emerged in 1992 in a settlement of a lawsuit filed in 1987 by the NFL Players Association. The association was formed in 1956 when players began to demand improved conditions. The union brought the suit in 1987 on behalf of players seeking freedom of movement between teams. The NFL’s Management Council initially objected to any form of free agency, so in 1987 veteran players held a three-game strike in protest. Now in place, free agency is accompanied by a salary cap that limits teams to a maximum annual player payroll.

F

The 1990s

     In the early 1990s quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances (1991–1994). However, they lost them all. Dallas returned to the Super Bowl in 1993 behind running back Emmitt Smith and quarterback Troy Aikman. The pair led the Cowboys to Super Bowl victories that year and in 1994 and 1996.

     Perhaps the greatest offensive players of the 1990s were running back Barry Sanders of the Lions and quarterbacks Steve Young of the 49ers, Dan Marino of the Dolphins, and John Elway of the Denver Broncos. Sanders led the NFL in rushing several times and became the first running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards in ten consecutive seasons (1989-1998). Young led the NFC in passing during five seasons (1991-1994 and 1996) and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory in 1995. Marino became the NFL’s all-time passing leader by passing for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns. Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowl appearances between 1987 and 1999, winning in 1998 and 1999. All of these players retired at the end of the decade.

G

Recent Developments

     The 2000 and 2001 Super Bowls ushered in a new era for the NFL, as the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants for each franchise’s first Super Bowl title. New stars such as quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Colts and Dante Culpepper of the Vikings, defensive players Jevon Kearse of the Titans and Ray Lewis of the Ravens, running backs Eddie George of the Titans and Edgerrin James of the   Colts, and receivers Rod Smith of the Broncos and Isaac Bruce of the Rams may be the leaders of the next generation to carve an NFL legacy.

     RUGBY FOOTBALL

I

INTRODUCTION

     Rugby Football, general name for a variety of football. It was said to have originated when a boy at Rugby School in Rugby, England, picked up and carried the ball during a game of football in 1823. Previously, the rules had only allowed the ball to be kicked. The modern game of rugby dates from the 1860s, when it was adopted and modified by other English schools and universities. In 1871 the English Rugby Union was formed to standardize the rules. The game is played with an oval ball, blunter in shape than the American football so that it may easily be bounced and drop-kicked—that is, kicked on the rebound.

Rugby play begins with a kickoff and is often followed by a scrum, in which the forwards lock shoulders and push against the opposing forwards, as both teams try to hook the ball to their halfbacks with their feet. Once the ball is in play, backs run down the field and pass it to each other to attempt a try, or down, in the opponent’s goal.

II

RUGBY UNION FOOTBALL

Rugby Union Football Field

In rugby union football, the objective is to run the ball into the opposing team’s goal area or to kick the ball through the uprights of the opposing team’s goal. In a rugby match, play rarely stops completely, and players may only advance the ball by running or kicking. They are not permitted to make forward passes.

     The form of rugby officially designated as Rugby Union Football played in more than 100 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England, France, Italy, Fiji, and South Africa. The sport's international governing body is the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB), located in Dublin, Ireland. In the United States there are more than 1400 rugby clubs and more than 100,000 players, governed by USA Rugby, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Rugby was only played as an amateur sport until 1995, when the IRFB passed a resolution allowing national governing bodies and local rugby clubs to pay their players.

     A rugby team consists of 15 players, generally divided into 8 forwards and 7 backs. Seven substitutions of players are permitted during a match in addition to injury replacements. Injured players, once having left the game, may not return. A game usually lasts for 80 minutes and is divided into two 40-minute halves with no time-outs.

      A rugby field is not more than 100 m (109.36 yd) in length and 69 m (75.46 yd) in width, and is divided transversely by two lines 22 m (24.06 yd) from each goal and a halfway line. Not more than 22 m (24.06 yd) behind each goal line is the dead-ball line, beyond which the ball is out of play. The uprights of the goal are 5.6 m (6.12 yd) apart. They are connected by a horizontal crossbar 3 m (3.28 yd) above the ground.

     Play begins with a place kick and is generally continued by a scrummage or scrum, in which the forwards of each team pack together with their arms across one another's shoulders and their heads down. Thus locked together, the forwards wheel and push against the opposing forwards, while attempting to hook the ball backward with their feet to one of the backs, called the scrum half. Having received the ball, the scrum half has several options: running with the ball until downed or until there is another chance to pass the ball, kicking the ball downfield, or immediately passing the ball to teammates. If the scrum half chooses to pass the ball, the teammates attempt to advance the ball forward and across the opponents' goal line. Once over the line the ball must be touched to the ground to score a try, which is worth 5 points. After scoring a try, a team is entitled to attempt a conversion similar to that in American football. In rugby the conversion kick is taken from anywhere on a line perpendicular to the goal line at the point that the ball was touched down. If the kicked ball passes over the crossbar and between the uprights, the team is awarded 2 additional points for the conversion.

     No player on the team with possession of the ball is permitted to move downfield ahead of the ball, and any obstruction of a player not carrying the ball is a foul and is penalized. Thus, there can be no running interference or blocking as in American football. When a ball carrier is downed, that player releases the ball, and play continues.

     Although the game appears complex, it is governed by only two major rules: (1) players may not pass the ball forward, and (2) players may not touch the ball while it is in play if it was last touched behind them (nearer their own goals) by players on their own teams. A minor infringement results in a scrummage. In the case of a serious infringement, or a foul, the referee, who is the only judge, may award a penalty kick against the offending team. A goal resulting from this kick scores 3 points. A goal scored from a dropkick (when during play a player drops the ball, lets it rebound off the ground, and kicks it over the crossbar and through the uprights) also counts 3 points. A mark occurs when a player standing behind that player's own 22 m (24 yd) line catches a ball on the fly from an opponent's kick and says, “Mark.” The player making the mark may then attempt a free kick.

III

RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL




     In a less complex form of the game organized in England in 1895, teams comprise only 13 players (two fewer forwards). A try counts 4 points, and the conversion counts 2. The Rugby League conducts professional, and some amateur, competition in this form of the game in northern England, France, Australia, and New Zealand.

IV

HISTORY

1962: Rugby

     England's traditional game had a record season in the United States and Canada in 1962, with more than 200 U.S. and Canadian teams participating in organized competition. The Eastern Rugby Union, begun in 1947 by Princeton and Yale, now includes twenty-one member and four affiliated clubs. Other active groups are the Missouri Rugby Union, Southern California Rugby Union, Rugby Union of Northern California, Alberta Rugby Union, Ontario Rugger Union, and the Quebec Rugger Union.

     Three U.S. teams engaged in international competition during the year. At Montreal, the Eastern Rugby Union all-star team lost to the Quebec Rugger Union all-stars, 8-0. Financed by the People-to-People Sports Committee, the Williams College Rugby Football Club was winless in a four-game tour of England, and the Dartmouth College team lost four and tied one in a five-game tour of Ireland.

     Also attracting wide attention was the New Zealand Rugby Union's Canadian tour. The New Zealanders lost to Vancouver, 3-0, and to British Columbia, 9-6.

     In the Commonwealth Cup tournament at Bermuda, Princeton defeated Yale for premier honors, while Virginia and Notre Dame tied for the consolation-round title. Dartmouth College retained the Carling Cup in the annual Canadian-U.S. competition by defeating the Province of Quebec team, 5-3.

     The Eastern Rugby Union championship went to Amherst, which also defeated Dartmouth for the Whitton division title. In other ERU championships, Harvard won over Williams in the Lee division, Columbia defeated Army in the Challenge circuit, and Baltimore led Westchester in the Pioneer loop.

     Harvard won the fourth annual seven-a-side tournament at New York City's Van Cortlandt Park by defeating the New York 'A' team, 8-5, in triple overtime. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology team finished third among the thirty teams in the competition.

     Undefeated in ten games, the Bombers Rugby Club won the Wallace trophy, emblematic of the Missouri Rugby Football Union championship. Paced by high-scoring Bob Meyer and Leo Hyla, the Bombers won nine games and tied one. Second in the six-team league was the Rebels Rugby Club, with a 6-2-2 season record. Roy Gibsen, who scored 28 points for the Rebels, was named the union's outstanding player.

     In intersectional play involving Missouri Rugby Union teams at St. Louis, Mo., Harvard defeated Washington University, 24-0, and the Ramblers Secundus, 6-3, but lost to the Ramblers Primus, 10-0. Notre Dame was victorious against the Rebels, 16-0, but lost to the Bombers, 40-0 and 3-0; to St. Louis University, 8-3; and to Washington University, 8-3.

1963: Rugby

     This football sport imported from England enjoyed another banner year in North America in 1963. United States and Canadian teams competed formally and informally in well over 200 contests. The Eastern Rugby Union, organized in 1947 by Princeton and Yale universities, now includes 29 active members. Other active North American groups are the Missouri Rugby Union, Southern California Rugby Union, Rugby Union of Northern California, Alberta Rugby Union, Ontario Rugger Union, and the Quebec Rugger Union.

     In the Commonwealth Cup tournament, held annually in Bermuda, Princeton, the 1962 winner, repeated its performance by defeating Virginia in the finals.

     First Troop, City of Philadelphia Cavalry, won the southeast division championship of the Eastern Rugby Union, while Amherst and Harvard finished in a tie for the northeast division honors.

     In an international match, the Quebec President's team won, 10-5, from a representative New York team. Notre Dame came east in the spring, winning from Fordham (N.Y.), 8-0, and losing to Columbia and West Point, 9-3 and 18-14, respectively.

     The Old Blues, a team of former Columbia University football players, won the fifth annual seven-a-side tournament at New York City's Van Cortlandt Park, by defeating Fairfield, 11-0, in the final. The Old Blues scored 38 points to the opposition's zero on the way to the title. They defeated MIT, 11-0; Villanova, 10-0; Baltimore Rugby Club, 3-0, and the Boston Rugby Club, 3-0. There were 39 teams participating in the seven-hour tournament. Fairfield's appearance in the final was a surprise since this was its first playing season. In the semi-final, Connecticut scored an 8-3 victory over the strong New York Rugby Club.

1990: Rugby

     New Zealand, the dominant power in Rugby Union international play, suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of Australia. In Rugby League, the Australian Kangaroos triumphed in a Test series in Britain.

Rugby Union.

New Zealand and Australia.

     Rugby Union's international order had been unchanged for so long that when the unthinkable happened and New Zealand lost to Australia—its first loss in four years—it was an event of epic proportions. New Zealand's All Blacks were last defeated in 1986 by France in Nantes. The following year they won Rugby Union's first World Cup. It was not until the third Test against Australia on August 18 this year, by which time the series had already been won and Scotland had also been beaten, 2-0, that they lost again. It was a great Australian performance, but its significance probably lay in the galvanizing effect the loss is likely to have on the New Zealanders. By 1991, when the World Cup is to be played, they will probably be an even more formidable team.

     By their own high standards, 1990 was not a vintage year for the All Blacks. Scotland did better against them in the first Test than a 31-16 defeat in Dunedin suggested, and in the second Test, New Zealand was fortunate to escape with a 21-18 win after the Scots had scored two tries to their one.

     Then came the three Tests against Australia. New Zealand reacted surprisingly to the lackluster displays against Scotland by dropping its captain, Wayne Shelford, who was made the scapegoat. The All Blacks had little difficulty winning the first Test, 21-6, in Christchurch and the second, 22-17, in Auckland. But in the third, in Wellington, New Zealand fell, 21-9, in a match in which Australia's prodigious kicker Michael Lynagh accumulated 17 points.

     Australia also achieved success when it was host to France. It won the first Test in Sydney easily, 21-9, and scoring records tumbled when it took the second in Brisbane, 48-31, to clinch the series, with Lynagh scoring 24 points. France came back to win the third Test, in Sydney, 28-19. Australia returned to its winning ways by trouncing the United States, 67-9, in Brisbane—the worst defeat ever for the Eagles.

Five Nations Championship.

     In the northern hemisphere, 1990 was notable for Scotland's performance in winning the Five Nations Championship against England, Wales, Ireland, and France. It beat all four, with the concluding match against England in Edinburgh being the deciding one. England, too, went into the last game unbeaten, but though the Scots were considered underdogs, they proved superior strategically and tactically on that day and thoroughly deserved their 13-7 victory and their Grand Slam. (England's hangover continued when the team toured Argentina and succeeded only in splitting a two-match series.)

     Scotland had not been especially impressive in its earlier games, whereas England had thrashed the other teams; its 34-6 win over Wales was a particularly fine record-breaker. For Wales there were four defeats in four games, the first time this strong rugby country had been whitewashed.

Furor in France.

     France was a huge disappointment, both in the Five Nations Championship and later in Australia. Coach Jacques Fouroux's obsession with muscular strength at the expense of the élan and style which had previously characterized French rugby caused a ferocious debate, which culminated in Fouroux's resignation in September. The preference for brawn over brain was most visible in Australia, where France had two players sent off during the Test matches. In the last home match Fouroux coached, France lost, 12-6, to Romania in Auch, his hometown. It was the first-ever Romanian victory on French soil.

Rugby League.

     The highlight of the Rugby League year was the visit of the 1990 Kangaroos to Great Britain and France. The Australians hoped to continue the proud tradition established by their predecessors in 1982 and 1986 by going through both countries undefeated.

     Going into the first Test at Wembley, the visitors, who had won their first five matches against English club and county opposition emphatically, were the firm favorites. But an inspired home performance of great concentration and control, in which Ellery Hanley and Garry Schofield were outstanding, led to a British win of 19-12, the first Australian defeat in Britain in 12 years. For the second Test at Manchester, Australia made no fewer than six changes. In the event, a much better balanced Australian side deservedly won, 14-10. In the third Test, at Leeds, Australia continued the improvement, while Britain never remotely resembled the decisive and controlling team of Wembley. The Kangaroos won, 14-0, to secure the series, 2-1.

     A notable development in 1990 (and possibly a contributing factor in New Zealand's defeat by Australia at Rugby Union) was the number of All Blacks who switched to Rugby League midway through the year. John Gallagher, Frano Botica, John Schuster, Paul Simonsson, and Matthew Ridge all joined professional clubs in England or Australia. Ridge, having joined Manly as a full back, found himself pressed into international service within weeks of his switch.

     Even with Ridge's presence and his considerable goalkicking prowess, however, New Zealand was unexpectedly beaten, 2-1, by an inexperienced and largely experimental British touring party. Mike Gregory's youthful side had started inauspiciously by dropping a Test in Papua New Guinea, but it beat New Zealand, 11-10 and 16-14, in Palmerston and Auckland, and might have won all three Tests if Martin Offiah had not uncharacteristically bungled a touchdown in the 21-18 defeat in Christchurch.

     Elsewhere on the international scene, New Zealand won, 36-4, in Papua New Guinea, where the game's development was threatened by civil unrest. Australia recorded comfortable victories over New Zealand and France, but despite its loss, the very presence of a French team in Australia was an encouraging sign after the near collapse of international Rugby                                                       League in France two years earlier.The best evidence of a French resurgence had, however, been provided earlier in the year with the team's magnificent 25-18 victory over Great Britain in Leeds, just a month after France had lost, 8-4, to the British in Perpignan.

1991: Rugby

     Australia triumphed in both Rugby Union and Rugby League play, with Australian teams winning the second-ever World Cup competition and League series against Great Britain and New Zealand.

Rugby Union.

World Cup 1991.

     Cofavorite Australia, having emerged in the previous 15 months as the most consistent challenger, became Rugby Union's new world champion, defeating England, 12-6, in the final in November. Succeeding New Zealand, who won the inaugural 16-nation tournament in 1987 for the Webb Ellis Trophy, the Australians (known as the Wallabies) were the outstanding all-around team in the 1991 competition, which was staged in Britain, Ireland, and France.

     The Wallabies, led by scrum half Nick Farr-Jones for the fourth year in succession, beat Argentina, Western Samoa, and Wales in their group matches to qualify for the quarterfinals. In the knockout section — the last eight — Australia accounted for Ireland and New Zealand's All Blacks (so called because of their black match attire) to reach the final, which was televised live in 40 countries.

     Australia's run of six Rugby World Cup wins in 30 days culminated in its victory in the final, against European champion England, at Twickenham, outside London, on November 2. The Wallabies' triumph ended an era of New Zealand supremacy the likes of which international Rugby Union had not known previously. After losing to France in 1986, New Zealand had been unbeaten in three years and 24 matches until it fell to Australia in a Bledisloe Cup game in August 1990. England, having suffered defeat in its opening World Cup match by the All Blacks in October, had recovered strongly to post group wins over the United States and Italy, followed by sterling away victories over France, in Paris, and Scotland, in Edinburgh.

     The beaten semifinalists, New Zealand and Scotland, played off for third place, victory going in Cardiff, Wales, to the All Blacks. Their forceful attacking was wearing down a mighty defense when, in the final seconds, Walter Little escaped for a try to set up a 13-6 win. The 1991 world rankings were thus: first, Australia; second, England; third, New Zealand; fourth, Scotland.

     The Rugby World Cup, played every four years, attracted an income in excess of £40 million in 1991. The sizable profits have been earmarked for the development of Rugby Union worldwide. The 37 competing nations were also to receive a share of the surplus, which was unofficially estimated at around £16.5 million. The total television audience in 70 countries for the 32 World Cup matches was estimated at more than 2 billion viewers.

1995 Tournament.

     New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and Argentina applied to host the 1995 tournament. Assuming South African rugby became racially integrated, South Africa seemed most likely to be named host country, not least because its application was backed by Australia, the champion. South Africa, though remaining a member of the International Rugby Board (IRB), the game's controlling authority worldwide, had not played any international rugby of consequence since hosting England in 1984 and had not played overseas since 1981.

     The IRB received a preliminary report on the 1991 World Cup and continued to discuss a relaxation of regulations governing amateurism, under which players cannot be compensated for their participation, but regulated expenses payments are permissible. The issue, which caused the split between the amateur Rugby Union and the professional Rugby League around the turn of the century, was still the focus of arguments, disputes, and petty jealousies. The sport has few paid officials worldwide and is bound by regulations that have little relevance — or justice — in an age in which Rugby Union is still discovering its vast, mostly untapped, commercial appeal.

Five Nations Championship.

     Away from the cut and thrust of the committee room, England won the 1991 Five Nations title, the Grand Slam, and the Calcutta Cup — the Slam being an unbeaten run against France, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The last victory, in January, was England's first in Cardiff in 28 years and left the team in such a state of bemused silence that the players declined to meet the media afterwards. In a sport which fondly believed itself still amateur, that was presumably each player's prerogative. However, Australia — whose rugby public relations would win prizes in its own right, besides highlighting the uphill struggle the team faces to win media attention from Aussie Rules and Rugby League — could not believe such foolishness, and even dour New Zealand, no longer assured of an admiring, receptive audience at home, expressed surprise.

     France, though, probably talked too much. Coach Daniel Dubroca had to resign in disgrace. Following France's October defeat by England, he had grabbed World Cup referee David Bishop (a New Zealander) by his jersey lapels and repeatedly called him, in English, 'Cheat, cheat, cheat .'

Rugby League.

     The international scene in 1990-1991 was dominated by more Australians, whose League rugby had been the best in the world for many years. They lost only twice in 16 matches — defeats by Great Britain (at London's Wembley Stadium), and by New Zealand (in Australia), being swiftly avenged in both series. A last-minute try by Mal Menings ensured a 14-10 victory for the tourists in the second match in Britain, at Old Trafford (Manchester), and the deciding match of the series was an anticlimax, Australia winning, 14-0. It had been 21 years since Great Britain's last series victory over the world champions. Though one down in the series with New Zealand, Australia came from behind strongly to thrash New Zealand, 2-1, winning the deciding match much as it pleased.

     Great Britain enjoyed wins over France, winning a World Cup-rated match, 45-10, in Perpignan and gaining a record 60-4 success in the return match at Headingley, Leeds. Attempts to establish the game in the Soviet Union met with limited success, as did similar efforts in South Africa.

     Among the British clubs, Wigan was supreme, as it had been in 1990, retaining the Division One title and the Challenge Cup. To achieve these successes, Wigan played its ten League matches in 31 days. It won nine and drew the other to take the division title by two points from Widnes. In the cup final, Wigan beat St. Helens, 13-8.

1992: Rugby

     Australia, for the second straight year, dominated both codes — the paid 13-a-side Rugby League and the unpaid 15-a-side Rugby Union. Besides retaining the League World Cup by beating Great Britain, Australia again defeated the leading Union-playing nations.

Rugby Union.

     The world rankings established by the 1991 World Cup in Europe — a competition played every four years and next due in South Africa in 1995 — were reconfirmed during 1992. Australia, the 1991 winner, underlined its status with record victories over Scotland, South Africa, and Ireland plus a two-matches-to-one Bledisloe Cup series win over New Zealand, which had won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 by beating France.

     Off the field, the return of South Africa to international competition, after it had been shunned for eight years, pushed the continuing radical relaxation of previously rigorous regulations governing amateurism aside as the sport's most controversial topic. Arguments still raged late in the year as to the true extent of racial integration in rugby union in South Africa; nevertheless, at its annual meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, in April the International Board unanimously agreed to hold the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa — partly in compensation for years of isolation and in recognition of the efforts of some sections of the South African rugby community to dismantle apartheid (the policy of separate development for the white, black, and Coloured populations).

      On the field, South Africa, denied top international competition since 1984 (other than an unofficial visit by the New Zealand Cavaliers in 1986), struggled. New Zealand (officially this time) and Australia each made short tours of South Africa in August 1992, winning all their matches — Australia impressively, New Zealand less so.

     Australia's 26-3 win in Cape Town was a triumph, too, for the behind-the-scenes diplomacy that made the match possible in the first place. The African National Congress (ANC) — South Africa's leading anti-apartheid organization — objected to the breaking of an agreement not to play national anthems before the matches. Before the New Zealand Test the stadium authorities in Johannesburg ignored the South African Rugby Football Union's instructions not to play the anthems, and immediately Australia's tour (the two visits overlapped) was in the balance for 48 hours. The ANC relented at a final meeting, no anthems were played in Cape Town, and Australia won handsomely.

     Though the political controversy arose again for South Africa's four matches in England in November, South Africa's October tour of France passed without major incident. It was a reasonably heartening playing visit, too, in that four defeats could be set against an encouraging test win in Lyon on October 17. France, recovering strongly, expertly squared the series, 29-11, the following week in Paris.

Five Nations Championship.

     Unbeaten England, scarcely stretched beyond a canter, wrapped up the European title for the second year in succession — a feat last achieved 68 years previously, also by England. Given the intense rivalries created by the tight confines of the competition, England's accomplishment was possible only because of an emphatic statement of consistent excellence in the four matches: 25-7 over Scotland at Murrayfield, Edinburgh; 38-9 over luckless Ireland at England's Twickenham home base; 31-13 over France in Paris; and 24-0 over Wales, also at Twickenham, to record the first back-to-back Grand Slam since 1924.

     England's 118 points in the 1991-1992 championship season surpassed the previous record of 102 by Wales in 1976. England's fullback Jonathan Webb, the only fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons playing international rugby, contributed 67 of those points to set an individual record, a total that also took him to 246 in 27 matches, another record.

     France, Scotland, and Wales each won two and lost two, finishing (unofficially) in that order on points difference, for and against. Though official records showed a triple tie for second place, there could be no question that Ireland, without a championship win for the second season in succession, was resoundingly at the bottom of the table.

     In 18 matches between autumn 1991 and winter 1992, Ireland won only three times — over Japan, Zimbabwe, and Argentina — a grisly statistic that prompted the resignation of coach Ciaran Fitzgerald on November 2 following a further record defeat by Australia in Dublin (42-17).

Rugby League.

     Australia was crowned world champion for the fifth successive time after defeating Great Britain, 10-6, at Wembley Stadium, London, on October 24. Attendance was 73,500, a record for an international.

     Seven Brisbane players on the Australian side, the Kangaroos, illustrated the dominance of the Queensland club at all levels. Brisbane took the domestic championship (Winfield Cup) for the first time, thrashing the St. George, New South Wales, club in the Grand Final, watched by a capacity crowd of 41,000 in Sydney.

     What Brisbane did in Australia, Wigan matched in England. Wigan, a Lancashire cotton town long resigned to being the butt of comedians, swept to a spectacular championship-challenge cup double for the third consecutive year, finishing with a victory over Castleford, also at Wembley.

     St. Helens, runner-up to Wigan, lifted the Lancashire Cup but was beaten in the Premiership final by Wigan in Manchester before another capacity crowd. The only other club to disturb Wigan's monopoly was Widnes, which beat Leeds in the final of the Regal Trophy.

     The season was also notable for two record transfer deals. Within four months of Leeds paying £250,000 ($400,000) for the services of Ellery Hanley, Great Britain's captain, Wigan bought Martin Offiah, a former Rugby Union wing three-quarter, from Widnes for £440,000 ($704,000).

1993: Rugby

     In the 37 amateur internationals worldwide in 1993, Australia, winners of the 1991 rugby World Cup, faltered, losing to France and New Zealand before squaring the autumn series in Paris. England, the 1991 finalists, accounted for New Zealand, the 1987 Cup champions, at Twickenham in November to complicate further world rankings. The World Cup is held every four years; the next tournament will be in South Africa in 1995. In Rugby League, a professional sport, with 13 players per side, Australia remained in the forefront, ahead of Great Britain.



Rugby Union.

     In a so-called amateur sport, administrators around the world continued to stretch the financial boundaries while balking at paying players to play. Fundraising activities by sponsors in Britain, ranging from celebration 'gold plate' dinners in Australia to fee-paying of players attending business functions, permitted the pretense that Union (15-per-side) competition remains an unpaid leisure activity even at the sport's highest level.

     In the more honest surroundings of the pitch, New Zealand continued to climb toward their previously undisputed world number one spot. Their year included victories over the sport's leading nations, including Australia, Western Samoa, Scotland, and Great Britain — playing as the British Lions, a composite selection from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Only England interrupted that New Zealand run.

     In Europe it was the turn of France to command in the ten-match Five Nations Championship, contested from January through March. Though narrowly beaten by England at Twickenham in January, 16-15, the French took the title out-right for the tenth time with wins over Scotland, 11-3, Wales, 26-10, and Ireland, 21-6. England, bidding for a record third successive Grand Slam, a feat never previously achieved, began shakily with its holding off of France. It then succumbed by a point to Wales, 10-9, and after beating Scotland, 26-12, was swept away by Ireland in Dublin in March, 17-3. If victory for the Irish was a shock, the margin of victory was a tremor of Richter-scale intensity.

     It came too late to influence selection in March for the British Lions prior to their tour of New Zealand, the 1993 venue in a four-year cycle that involves a combined British Isles team playing a dozen matches in either Australia, South Africa, or New Zealand on a rotating basis. Ireland supplied only two players to the original squad, but because of injuries in the course of the tour two Irish reserves saw play and doubled their country's representation.

     The Lions, led by Gavin Hastings, Scotland's fullback, attracted record crowds — and receipts — but flattered only to deceive. Beaten in a controversial match in the First Test in Christchurch, New Zealand, they squared the series with a satisfying 20-7 win in the Second Test in Wellington. Although poised in July to take a test series in New Zealand for only the second time ever, the Lions faltered. After a record defeat by Waikato, they lost, 30-13, at Eden Park, Auckland, in the final match.

     France, in contrast, having thrashed Romania, 37-20, in May, won a tight series in South Africa before returning home to achieve another runaway win over Romania. This was followed by a much harder tussle with Australia, in Bordeaux, which ended in a 16-13 win for the French. In this match Philippe Sella, a center three-quarter, won a record 93rd cap (awarded for membership on a national team) for France.

     Near the end of the year, England redeemed itself spectacularly with a stunning 15-9 Test Match upset of New Zealand's redoubtable All-Blacks on November 27, thereby taking the luster off the visitors' tour in which the All-Blacks had won every game prior to the showdown at Twickenham.

     Off the field, in addition to the ongoing debate about the principles of amateurism, the prime topic was the suitability of playing the 1995 World Cup tournament in strife-ridden South Africa, which was recently readmitted to the international rugby fold following a relaxation of the country's apartheid laws.

     In October, having previously declined to contemplate such a move, the International Rugby Football Board asked Rugby World Cup (an autonomous body that had been set up to organize tournaments every four years) to consider contingency plans for a change of venue. Most lobbyists, in the event of a late change, favored New Zealand as the most suitable alternative for the tournament.

     Despite concern at the increasing demands the competition makes on the better players, the international board also agreed to continue the Rugby World Cup Sevens, a new seven-per-side event won by England at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in April. Given scant preparation, England's little-known players were led by Andrew Harriman. In its devotion to sevens, Fiji has so neglected the 15-a-side game that for the present it is not a recognized force in traditional rugby. A second world sevens tournament, under the auspices of the board, will be held in 1997 in Hong Kong, the city that pioneered international sevens competition.

Rugby League.

     The rule of 1992 world champion Australia wavered briefly when New Zealand, the hosts, forced one draw in the 1993 three-match series. Australia's answer was two emphatic victories to underline its superiority. New Zealand slipped still further when Great Britain took the first two games in the United Kingdom autumn series.

     In a sport that is on sound economic footing only in Australia, little changed on the club scene worldwide. Brisbane took the national championship for a second successive year in Australia while Wigan's stranglehold on the English game was ruthlessly maintained.

     Coach John Monie, an Australian, celebrated his final season with Wigan by winning the league title for the fourth successive year and the Challenge Cup for an unprecedented sixth consecutive season. Wigan's only setback came when St. Helens prevented a clean sweep by winning the Premiership final. John Dorahy, another Australian, was appointed Wigan's new coach. Among his recruits during the off-season were Nigel Wright and Gary Connolly, who came at a combined transfer fee of £400,000 ($592,000).

     Bradford, having paid £325,000 ($481,000) for Paul Newlove and Paul Dixon, began the new season with five successive wins. Great Britain coach Malcolm Reilly, who also has charge of Halifax, explored the overseas market and brought Michael Hagen (Australia) and former All-Blacks player John Schuster (New Zealand) to England. Warrington signed former Wales Rugby Union star Jonathan Davies from Widnes. But with half a dozen players on the Great Britain squad, plus the expert contributions of Frano Botica (New Zealand), the most consistent goal kicker in the world game, Wigan was set to secure another clutch of titles.

1994: Rugby

     In 1994, Rugby Union — a 15-a-side, unpaid sport — continued to debate its status in the face of increasing financial rewards for top players deriving from sponsorship, advertising, and trust funds. Far-reaching changes in mandatory regulations were scheduled for March 1995. On the field, Australia, the world champion, again led the way, closely followed by France and New Zealand. In Rugby League — a paid, 13-a-side sport — Great Britain's challenge to Australia, the standard bearer, improved.

     France's Rugby Union team, defeated finalist in the 1987 World Cup (the inaugural competition), regained second place in unofficial world rankings. Victories in New Zealand and South Africa and in Europe over Romania, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales completed a successful year. But for the seventh match in succession, France failed against England in Paris, although England, in turn, lost to Ireland at Twickenham. These upsets allowed Wales to take the Five Nations' European title on points difference despite finishing second to England at Twickenham.

     The qualifying rounds for the Rugby Union World Cup, staged every four years, brought a place in the 1995 finals in South Africa to little-known Ivory Coast; Japan, who defeated South Korea, remained Far East champion. Others qualifying to join the seeded nations included Italy, Argentina, and Tonga.

     In domestic competition in England, Bath, English league champion for five of the past seven seasons, continued to break all records.

     Rugby League, played primarily in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, expanded during 1994 after the World Sevens in Sydney in which Fiji, France, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Tonga, the United States, and Western Samoa were represented.

    The Rugby League World Cup, slated to be held in England and Wales in 1995, was increased to ten teams with Fiji, Tonga, and Western Samoa taking part for the first time. The United States, which defeated Canada twice, was to join Russia, Moldova, and Morocco in a separate competition for developing nations. Italy and Japan were also invited.

     Australia, the dominant force in the sport, warmed up for its European tour by thrashing France in Sydney. Inconsistent Great Britain, having taken the test series, 3-0, against New Zealand in 1993, posted a shaky 12-4 win over France in Carcassonne, France. But in October it squeezed past Australia, 8-4, in a major upset at London's Wembley Stadium.

     Led by Martin Offiah, who scored two tries and was named the game's outstanding player, Wigan defeated Leeds in April to become the English champion for the fifth straight year. Wigan went on to produce a major upset in Queensland, Australia, by overhauling the Brisbane Broncos, its Australian counterpart, to take the world club title.

1995: Rugby

     Radical changes in both rugby codes, Rugby Union and Rugby League, were agreed to in 1995. Union, previously an amateur, recreational grouping, decided in August that players, referees, and officials could be paid beginning with the 1995-1996 season. Abandoning a basic ethic of the sport, the International Rugby Football Board, which represents 67 countries, said it was time for Rugby Union to be honest and end illegal payments.

     Rugby League, in its centennial year, was required to rearrange the playing seasons and administrative setup in order to complete a $550 million five-year television deal. In accepting the offer from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for exclusive television rights in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and France, a breakaway Super League was created. In Europe the game will switch from winter to summer, beginning in March 1996. In Australia the Murdoch contracts were challenged by the Australian Rugby League, which possesses binding contracts until the year 2000 with another television company.

     The ongoing legal arguments did not upset Australia's bid to become Rugby League world champion. The Kangaroos lost the opening match to England, but they turned around to beat England, 16-8, in the final at London's Wembley Stadium on October 28.

     Rugby Union's world champion was South Africa, competing in the tournament for the first time. The country's apartheid policies ruled it out in 1987, and in 1991 it did not seek an invitation. South Africa, cheered on by President Nelson Mandela, beat New Zealand, the favorite, 15-12, in Johannesburg in June. Extra time had to be played. France, which beat England for the first time in seven years, 19-9, was third. England, whose 25-22 quarterfinal victory in Cape Town eliminated Australia, the previous champion, traveled to South Africa as Europe's Grand Slam champion, having beaten all comers, including France, for the third time in five years.

     The leading Southern Hemisphere Rugby Union nations also signed a television contract with the Murdoch organization — a ten-year deal for $550 million involving 12 teams in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Announced in June, this arrangement prompted the          International Board to agree that Rugby Union should be open in future. The ruling was permissive, not mandatory, as the majority of member nations outside the top ten cannot afford to pay players.

     Bath remained England's leading club. Toulouse dominated in France; Stirling County won Scotland's league; unbeaten Shannon was Ireland's champion; and in Wales, Cardiff returned to the top.

1996: Rugby

     In 1996, Rugby League, a 13-a-side paid sport restricted in the main to Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and France, was again bedeviled by legal actions in the Australian courts. A previous decision in favor of Australian Rugby League (ARL), the governing body, was reversed on appeal. ARL had challenged a television deal made by Rugby League officials in 1995.

     Rugby Union, a 15-a-side worldwide sport in which payment was forbidden until regulations were changed in August 1995, had protracted difficulties in settling to its new status. Most disputes, financial and contractual, were in England, where the amateur game had been founded.

     Beyond the committee rooms and the courts, playing standards in both sports improved.

     St. Helens succeeded Wigan as England's leading League club. It won the Challenge Cup by beating Bradford at Wembley in April and took the first Super League championship, a summer competition, a point ahead of Wigan. In a third domestic tournament, Wigan won the Premiership to prevent a clean sweep by St. Helens.

     In Australia, Manly, a Sydney club, won the national championship for the first time in nine years, overcoming St. George (Sydney). A three-nation European championship was won by England, but it failed in New Zealand, losing the autumn series, 3-0.

     There were shifts of power internationally in the Union game. South Africa, winner of the 1995 World Cup, was beaten, 2-1, in a domestic series by New Zealand, which also won the first Tri-Nations tournament in the southern hemisphere. The Super 12 tournament for states  and provinces went to Auckland (NZ), which was also domestic champion.

     In the northern hemisphere, England again won the Five Nations tournament, in what could   have been its final appearance in the event. For selling television rights to a satellite company, England was expelled initially. In a compromise agreement by which TV fees must be shared, England was readmitted in September for the season that runs from the fall of 1996 to the spring of 1997.

     Bath's domination of the club scene in England continued unabated. Several clubs were bought outright by wealthy individuals. In late November a long-running dispute between the clubs and the governing body in England about finance and competitive structures was resolved when a new, virtually autonomous governing body was established to run the professional game. In effect, the professional game would be run by the professional clubs themselves.

     Scotland and Ireland had no representatives in the knockout (quarter-final) stages of the Heineken European Cup, a revised tournament in which French clubs were the most successful in the early rounds.

1997: Rugby

     Rugby Union expanded in 1997, the International Rugby Football Board (the 15-a-side game's ruling body) increasing its worldwide member-ship to 79 nations. Off the pitch, the game that had embraced professionalism in 1995 addressed the organizational difficulties that had troubled its new status. For the first time, moreover, players in Europe legally received fees for appearing in domestic and continental competitions. A new problem, however, was that the specter of bankruptcy resulting from high salaries threatened a handful of Britain's leading clubs.

     Rugby League, a sport confined mainly to Britain, France, and the Pacific, continued to suffer politically in Australia, where two rival organizations — Australian Rugby League (ARL) and Australian Super League — were unable to settle their differences during the playing season. In December, however, they agreed to merge into a single National Rugby League, which was to field 20 teams in 1998.

     Despite the problems in Australia, Rugby flourished. New tournaments contested by fitter players led to higher playing standards. Pacific nations ruled both codes.

     New Zealand was Rugby Union's master. Its international side was unbeaten in the southern hemisphere Tri-Nations tournament, and Auckland, despite ceding its national title to Canterbury, was the southern hemisphere's leading provincial side, winning the Super 12 final.

     In the northern hemisphere, France succeeded England as winner of the Five Nations championship, and its clubs won both European tournaments in January. Brive triumphed in the European Cup, and Bourgoin was winner of the Conference final. English clubs featured prominently in the 1997-1998 European Cup competition, which was to reach its climax early in 1998. Wasps, Leicester, Bath, and Harlequins — clubs backed by wealthy sponsors and strengthened by star players imported from overseas — reached the quarterfinals.

     Elsewhere in Britain, Melrose collected the League and Cup double in Scotland, while in Wales, Pontypridd and Cardiff were, respectively, champion and Cup winners.

     Of the emerging Rugby Union nations, Canada sustained its drive for major status by winning the Pacific Rim round-robin, and Italy underlined its case for admission to an extended Five Nations tournament with away wins against Ireland and France. Fiji, long recognized as seven-a-side experts, beat South Africa in the shortened game's World Cup final in Hong Kong.

     Rugby League's spoils were shared in England: St. Helens retained the Challenge Cup in May; Bradford headed England's Super League competition, held during the summer months; and in a third domestic tournament, Wigan kept the Premiership title.

     Newcastle won the ARL grand final, and Brisbane, inaugural winner of the Australian Super League title, became the first Super League world club champion in October. This new tournament, comprising 12 European teams and ten from Australia/New Zealand, was dominated by the Anzacs, who regularly posted huge scores in matches against European sides. Australia's supremacy was underlined later in the autumn with its 2-1 Test series success against Great Britain.

 

 

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

 

Tabel Of Contents:

I.                  INTRODUCTION

II.              FIELD

III.          PLAYERS
A.   Offense
B.    Defense
C.    Special Teams

IV.          OFFICIALS

V.              EQUIPMENT

VI.          PLAY
A.    Kickoff
B.     Runing a Play
C.     Scoring

VII.      AMATEUR COMPETITIONS
A.     High School and College Football
B.      Heisman Trophy and Other Awards
C.      Bowl Games and National Championship

VIII.  PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
A.      National Football League (NFL)
B.       Other Leagues

IX.          HISTORY
A.      Early College Football
B.      Rise of the Professional Game
C.      New Forces in The 1960s
D.      The 1970s
E.       The 1980s
F.       The 1990s
G.       Recent Developments

 RUGBY FOOTBALL

 

Tabel Of Contents:

I.                  INTRODUCTION

II.              RUGBY UNION FOOTBALL

III.          RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTABALL

IV.          HISTORY
A.    1962:Rugby
B.    1963:Rugby
C.    1990:Rugby

          1)Rugby Union-New Zeeland and Australia
          2)Five Nations Championship
          3)Furor in France
          4)Rugby League
D.    1991:Rugby
          1)Rugby Union-World Cup 1991
          2)1995 Tournament
          3)Five Nations Championship
          4)Rugby League
E.    1992:Rugby
          1)Rugby Union
          2)Five Nations Championship
          3)Rugby League
F.    1993:Rugby
          1)Rugby Union
          2)Rugby League
G.   1994:Rugby
H.   1995:Rugby
I.     1996:Rugby
J.     1997:
Rugby        









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