Tuesday 20 December 2016

Match Preview: Accies v Crusaders - The 1857 Cup

This Boxing Day we will celebrate the 159th anniversary of the first match played by The Edinburgh Academical Football Club with a fixture against The Crusaders RFC.

Each squad will be made up of a mixture of social, veteran and current players, with the likes of David McIvor, Derek O'Riordan, Jamie Sole and Fraser Gillies already signed up to play for Accies. Each team will invite players to make sure we have the minimum number of players required, but if you don't get a call and would like a run around you are more than welcome to come along and join in!

The match will kick-off at noon and entry is FREE for all. The bar will be open, the Kiddy Area will be set up and there will be hot food and drink available during and after the match.There will also be a fundraising raffle and the return of the traditional Boxing Day Auction.

Launch of the 1857 Cup

While the friendly is primarily a social fixture (with running subs and 'non-contact' bibs available on request), the winning team will be presented with the "1857 Cup". The 1857 Cup was kindly donated by our main sponsor, Murray & Currie Property, and has been introduced as we hope to commemorate Accies' inaugural match with a similar fixture every year.

The game itself will also pay tribute to the first match played by the Club as it will be played under two different sets of rules. The first half will be played under our interpretation of the laws used in 1857 (see below), while the second half will be played using modern day laws. We hope this will give players and spectators a unique and interesting experience and an insight into how far the Club and the game have come since 1857. At the very least, it should be a lot of fun!

1857 Laws (Our Interpretation)

It appears that the first fairly comprehensive account of the laws of rugby were not published until the 1870s, with numerous gaps in the records prior to this, as they were generally written under the presumption that readers already had a reasonable practical knowledge of the game. It is therefore difficult to tell exactly what the rules were and how they played out on Raeburn Place in 1857.

Nonetheless, after a bit of deduction, a few assumptions and a couple of test runs during our fixture-less November, we have come up with an interpretation for use during the Boxing Day friendly.

Generally, the laws of 1857 were the same as today but with the following minor differences:

  • Each team must have 20 players - 10 forwards and 10 backs.
  • A try is worth 0 points with conversions and drop-goals worth 1 point.
  • Conversions and kick-offs must be place-kicks (with no tee!).
  • There are no rucks. If a player is tackled to the ground with the ball a scrum must form.
  • Lineouts must consist of all forwards, no lifting is allowed and there are no quick throw-ins.
  • Free-kicks are awarded instead of penalties.

The main differences relate to general play and the scrums. In general play, players are only allowed to carry the ball if they have caught it directly (or while bouncing) from a kick, pass or knock-on, otherwise the ball should be kicked or dribbled. In terms of off-side rules, they are essentially the same as today in that players should remain 'on their side' of the ball during breakdowns, restarts etc and prior to a kick, but perhaps this aspect of off-side will be more prevalent given the likely increase in kicking/dribbling.

Perhaps the greatest difference (and certainly the most interesting when practising) is the format of the scrum. A scrum consists of 10 forwards from each side huddling in an unbound and upright position either side of the ball. When the scrum commences (at the call of "ball-off!") the players will jostle for possession of the ball using their feet until the ball leaves the scrum and normal play will recommence.

Winter Weather: The match will go ahead regardless of the weather. We will adjust the format to suit the conditions, such as playing touch or coming up with suitable "indoor competitions" if the pitch is unplayable.


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