Harvard in those days played its games on the Boston Common.
The number playing varied from 10 to 15 on a side according to how many came out for the afternoon's play. It was played with a round ball and started with a kick-off. An off-side player was called a "lurker" if he were not in motion. If in motion he could take part in the play like an on side man. Fair play was strictly and voluntarily adhered to by every player.
Yale Game Off
A suggested game between Harvard and Yale in 1873 was called off because the rules of the game at the two colleges were so widely at variance. Also the H. U. F. B. Club was of a club nature with intramural rather than intercollegiate thoughts in the minds of the organizers.
In 1873, some of the customarily friendly citizens of Cambridge had Cambridge Common closed to football and the players then went to Holmes Field, then a rough, uneven area poorly adapted to any sport--contrast later and now.
In the winter of 1873 Harvard declined an invitation to jon Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, and Princeton in forming an Intercollegiate Association. The reason being that the other four were playing a form of Rugby with slight variations at each college, but a game totally different from the one developed at Cambridge, and Harvard was satisfied with its own game. As usual Harvard was accused of "high hatting" the other institutions.
In 1874 a challenge was received from McGill University for two games--one to be played under the Rugby rules in Cambridge. Both games were ultimately played in Cambridge on Jarvis Field (then the baseball field) May 14 and 15, 1874. Admission for standees fifty cents with the proceeds devoted to entertaining the visitors.
Harvard dressed in long dark trousers, white undershirt; and maquita handkerchiefs on their heads. The uniform lasted the game of the first day, played under the Harvard rules which provided for much kicking and little body contact. But, in the Rugby game the costumes were reduced to shreds to the amusement as well as to the amazement of the 500 spectators. Harvard easily won under their rules. The second game under McGill's Rugby rules was a scoreless tie. The proceeds of the gate with contributions from other sources totaled several hundred dollars, all of which was expended at the Parker House entertaining the visitors for two days and, as the historians report, "with Champagne flowing as it will never do again."