Did American football derive from rugby?


Yes. In the 1860s, ‘football’ referred to all sorts of variations on a theme: two teams moving a ball to the opposing goal, on foot rather than on horseback. Different cities and schools adapted the idea with their own ever-evolving rules.

In the 1870s, England’s Rugby School variation took hold with US players, largely thanks to two prominent matches between Harvard and Canada’s rugby-loving McGill University. At Yale, a student named Walter Camp led the charge in re-imagining rugby with new additions like the quarterback, line of scrimmage, plus the down-and-distance system. Over time, in American universities, this new form of football became the standard.


Answered by Tom Harris


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