The origin of Football Terms - Rugby

Posted by TheFallen on April 23, 2003

In Reply to: The origin of Football Terms posted by Kris Hans on April 22, 2003

: I was wondering where the terms quarterback, fullback, and halfback cam from. Also where did the term punt come from?

The answer to the first questions relates to rugby - the UK precursor to American Football, which is still happily played over here in the UK. There are two variants of rugby, namely Rugby Union and Rugby League, with one of the chief differences between the two being the number of players per team - 15 in Union and 13 in League, but that's not desperately relevant.

To deal with Rugby Union, a rugby team is divided into the forwards - 8 big hulking guys who form the "scrum" (hence the term line of scrimmage) - and the backs who line up diagonally across the pitch whenever a scrum takes place, but who must be behind the ball. The 7 backs are themselves sub-divided into 2 half-backs (the scrum-half, the guy who feeds the ball into the scrum and distributes it down the line of backs if his side should win the ball, and the fly-half, sometimes known as the standoff-half, who's next down the line), 4 three-quarter backs (the inside and outside centres and a left and right wing) and right at the rear, the full back.

So it's all about the positioning of the players on a rugby pitch. I suspect that American Football adopted and amended these terms.