History of Fives

Fives has been around since the 17th century. The origins of the name are unclear but is thought to come from the fact that there are five digits on a hand. The shape of the court comes from the sport’s birthplace, Eton College, where the buttresses on the side of the chapel formed bays in which the boys could play. In 1840 the headmaster of Eton College built a new set of courts, based on the original chapel layout. In 1877, the official rules of Eton Fives were established and in 1885 the first ever inter-school match was played between Eton and Harrow.



The first ever Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge was played in 1928 and the annual tradition continues to this day, with 6 men’s pairs and 6 ladies’ pairs when possible. Eton Fives is played in France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, India, Argentina and Nigeria.


More information on the history of Eton Fives can be found on the EFA website or in the book "A History of Eton Fives" by Dale Vargas and Peter Knowles.

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