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Q. Could anyone say if there are any football laws that disallow lifting in the penalty area as per rugby players in a line-out? This would be difficult to prevent without defenders obstructing forwards who would be closely herded together.

A. There is no rule covering this in the laws of association football 1998-99. However a similar situation is covered in the book, Advice on the Application of the Laws of the Game, published by the Football Association. On page 14, section 2b, it states that if a player leans on the shoulders of another player of his own team in order to head the ball, the referee shall stop the game, caution the player for unsporting behaviour and award an indirect free-kick to the opposing side.


(Leigh Referees' Society)

Leigh, Lancashire

Q. When William Webb Ellis picked up a football and ran with it, thus historically inventing the game of rugby, presumably the ball was spherical. When and why did rugby adopt an oval ball?

Did other oval ball sports (Aussie rules and

American football) derive from rugby or did

they evolve separately?

A. William was indirectly responsible for the oval ball too. When he tired of playing football with his mates he picked up the ball, ran through everyone (who wondered what he was doing) and reached the other end of the pitch. He asked "What do I do with the ball now?" Those whose game of football had been spoilt showed him exactly what they would do with it... and that is how the ball became oval.


Beenham, Berkshire

Answers please

Q. Recently, Wasim Akram took two hat-tricks in consecutive Test matches in a series for Pakistan? Has this ever been surpassed at Test level, for example by a hat-trick in each innings of a match, or surpassed at first-class level in general.



Q. In his book, McAusan in the Rough, George MacDonald Fraser describes how it is possible, hypothetically, for a footballer to score three successive goals without any other player touching the ball. He also suggest that a 155 break in snooker is possible.

Anyone know how?



Q. Serena against Venus Williams in the final of the Lipton tennis tournament was the first time sisters have met in a tour final. Have brothers (for example, Tim and Tom Gullikson) ever met in a final or major match before, and if they did, what was the outcome?



If you know an answer, or have a sporting question, write to Q and A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Fax: 0171-293 2894. E-mail: Include name and address with E-mails please.