Myth Trivia: Rugby’s influence on American football

Are you ready for some football?

Football and Rugby (public domain)

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 30, 2015 – Now that a judge has taken all the oxygen out of the NFL’s dispute with New England’s Brady bunch, perhaps it’s time to add some hot air to our weekly trivia endeavor with some facts about football.

1 – What is drop kicking?: We’ll begin with the simplest trivia first. For older football fans, drop kicking doesn’t even qualify as a trivial pursuit, but youngsters should still find it interesting.

Basically a drop kick is when a football player drops the ball and kicks it just as it bounces off the ground. Some analysts say that the best players were able to time their kicks before the bounce, but the key factor is the actual dropping of the ball.
Today, drop kicking in American football is a lost art, having been replaced by the more familiar place kicking. which is done for field goals and extra points.

Drop kicks are still used in rugby, which is rapidly growing in popularity and was a forerunner to American football. It may, at the very least, revive knowledge of the technique even though it is a thing of the past for traditional football enthusiasts.

For old timers, the trivia does improve with the factoid that the only successful drop kick in the NFL since the 1940s came in 2006. This time we return to the New England Patriots and quarterback Doug Flutie, who drop-kicked an extra point against the Miami Dolphins.

2 – Origin of the word “touchdown”: Once again rugby is our guide since the ball must actually touch the ground by the ball carrier when he crosses the end line in rugby. A score in rugby, by the way, is known as a “try.” Oddly enough, the word “touchdown” does not exist in the sport.

Since modern football evolved from rugby, however, the concept of touching the ball to the ground was a carry-over in the American sport as far back as the 1870s. Of course, that rule no longer exists today.

Formal rules for football as we know them today were drawn up among Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and Yale in 1876 and state that a “touchdown” would officially take place with the “touching down of the ball.”

As an added note, the first rulebook in American football consisted of only 61 regulations. Today there are 61 variations on penalties alone.

In rugby, the term we use for “touchdown” is known as “grounding.” Ironically, “grounding” in college football and the NFL has an entirely different meaning for modern fans, but that’s another story.

3 – Rugby and the Olympics: Now we get to the item that can win you some free beers next time you’re in a competitive mood at your favorite pub.

When the Summer Olympics convene in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, rugby will return to the list of team competitions for the first time in 92 years.

Rugby debuted in the Olympics in Paris in 1900. Following that, it was played in London in 1908, Antwerp in 1920 and in Paris again in 1924. France holds the record for the most medals winning gold in the 1900 games and two silvers, one in 1920 and 1924.

But that’s just the teaser. The real trivia question is to name the most successful rugby team in Summer Olympic Games history. The answer will make any “Jeopardy” enthusiast proud.

If you said the United States, you’d be right on the mark. The American team took gold in 1920 and 1924. In fact, since the year 1924 was the last time a rugby competition was held in the Olympics, believe it or not, the United States will be the defending champion when the games begin in Brazil.

One added note, the final score in 1924 was United States – 17, France – 3

Who’d a thunk it?

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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