Illegal Contact Can No Longer be Challenged by Coaches -- Board of Governors Approves Rule Changes for 2018

TORONTO (May 23, 2018) -- Rule changes designed to improve player health and safety and eliminate illegal contact as a challengeable play will be in place when the Canadian Football League (CFL) kicks off its regular season next month.

The league’s Board of Governors has now approved the changes which were first proposed by the CFL’s Rules Committee earlier this year. 

“The governors have again emphasized the importance of player safety to our league, as well as the need to protect game flow on behalf of our fans,” said Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s Senior Director of Officiating.

Here is a summary of the changes to the CFL rule book:

  • Illegal contact on a receiver can no longer be a play coaches can challenge (and send to video review).
  • The replay official will automatically review “potential touchdowns” – plays marked down short of the line when it when it appears obvious a touchdown has been scored.
  • It will be illegal for any player to deliver a forcible block on an opponent while moving back towards his own goal line, sometimes referred to as a “blindside” block.
  • Low blocks that occur outside of the “tackle box” – the area that extends from tight end to tight end and from the quarterback or kicker to two yards beyond the line of scrimmage – are outlawed.
  • The definition of spearing is widened to include any situation where a player delivers a blow with his helmet as the initial or primary point of contact. (This does not apply to a low running ball carrier.)
  • A loophole in the “sleeper” play rule is closed by making it illegal for a player who enters the game and remains outside the numbers to receive the ball in any manner, including a kick or lateral.
  • What constitutes a quarterback making a legal pass behind the line of scrimmage is now defined as the passer having at least one of his feet on or behind the line of scrimmage instead of requiring that the release point of the ball be behind the line of scrimmage.
  • The so-called “force out rule” is eliminated: a receiver catching a ball has to place at least one foot inbounds regardless of whether he was contacted in mid-air.
  • The penalty for “pyramiding” – the practice of using another player to elevate one’s self to block a kick – is increased from five yards to ten yards.
  • Allow the Replay Official to correct the game clock after a challenge to what the clock should read as a result of the challenge.

The Rules Committee, which includes several coaches and general managers as well as veteran official Al Bradbury and representatives of the Canadian Football Players Association, met in Winnipeg during Mark’s CFL Week last March.

The Board of Governors, which meets regularly throughout the year, includes the owners of privately held teams and the chairpersons of community-led teams.

The CFL regular season kicks off a week earlier this year, on Thursday, June 14th, when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos at Investors Group Field. Friday Night Football debuts June 15th when the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the reigning Grey Cup champions, the Toronto Argonauts. On Saturday, June 16th, the first double-header of the season features the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Calgary to face the Stampeders and the BC Lions hosting the Montreal Alouettes in Vancouver.  For single-game tickets, click here.

Lucas Barrett

Manager, Communications & Public Affairs, Canadian Football League

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