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Not just cricket

Playing by the rules

Britain prides itself on inventing the rules to sports played by millions across the globe. From cricket to golf, football to athletics, how much do you know about the history of British fair play?

W G Grace

1.) Cricket

What did Thomas White of Reigate do to cause an outrage that led to a change in the laws of cricket in 1774?

  1. Over-arm bowling
  2. Using a bat wider than the wicket
  3. Fielding without a tophat
  4. Spinning the ball

2.) Golf

Which of the following items was not part of the St Andrews 1784 dress code?

  1. Silver club
  2. Knee-high socks
  3. Embroidered ball
  4. Velvet cape

3.) Boxing

When the first boxing rules were laid down by Jack Boughton in 1743, which of the following were disallowed?

Boxing glove
  1. Wrestling moves
  2. Hitting below the belt
  3. Hitting a man when he was down
  4. Pulling hair

4.) Football

The first known rules for football were written by Rugby school in 1846. What previously acceptable practice did they stop?

  1. Running with the ball in hand
  2. Only backward passing allowed
  3. Kicking an opponent while they were being held down
  4. More than 11 men allowed on a pitch

5.) Horse racing

In which year were fences first built on a racecourse?

Horse mid-jump
  1. 1594
  2. 1694
  3. 1794
  4. 1894

6.) Rowing

The 1928 Olympics sculling champion Bob Pearce was banned from the Henley Regatta on what grounds?

  1. He was a carpenter
  2. He was foreign
  3. He was likely to win
  4. He had competed in the Olympics

7.) Tennis

Before the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club set down the rules in 1877, what shape court was lawn tennis played on?

Tennis racket
  1. Hexagonal
  2. Square
  3. Hour-glass
  4. No set shape

8.) Athletics

The first amateur athletics meeting was inspired by...

  1. Poor quality horses
  2. Limited seating in a pub
  3. A five shilling wager
  4. A broken steam train

9.) Hockey

What did the Hockey Association ban when it set down rules to the game in 1892?

Hockey players
  1. Using a square ball
  2. League and cup competitions
  3. Picking up the ball
  4. Post-match revelry

10.) Rugby

Which banned rugby practice was known as a hallelujah?

Rugby ball
  1. Insulting the referee
  2. Hacking
  3. Punches to the face
  4. Tackling above the shoulders


  1. Using a bat wider than the wicket. The rule that a bat was not allowed to be wider than 4 1/4 inches remains in place to this day.
  2. Knee-high socks. The velvet cape had to be dark blue with white buttons.
  3. Hitting a man when he was down. All the others were perfectly legal.
  4. Kicking an opponent while team-mates held them down. Kicking opponents below the knee while unhindered was still allowed.
  5. 1794. The first steeplechase on a racecourse took place at Newmarket.
  6. He was a carpenter. The stewards of Henley had a strict - if somewhat erratic - approach to the enforcement of their rules on amateurism.
  7. Hour-glass - as patented by lawn tennis inventor Major Walter Clopton Wingfield.
  8. Poor quality horses. In 1850, students of Exeter College, Oxford elected to race each other rather than compete in the "College Grind" horse race.
  9. League and cup competitions. The Hockey Association deemed it to be a sport played for honour not competition.
  10. Hacking. Although banned in 1871, a number of schools continued to celebrate deliberately kicking opponents in the shins in a five minute free-for-all of "glorious hacking" at the end of the game.

For your knowledge of the rules you deserve

0 - 3 : Five minutes of glorious hacking

4 - 6 : A cricket bat wider than the stumps

7 - 9 : A round of golf in a velvet cape

Questions are taken from Can we have our balls back, please? by Julian Norridge

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