TORONTO — The Canadian Football League’s Board of Governors has approved four significant rule changes as recommended by the Rules Committee, the CFL announced today.
The rule changes include expanding the use of instant replay on game changing plays, eliminating blocking below the waist after a completed pass, punting out of bounds and illegal participation.
“Each off-season the Rules Committee is tasked to look for ways to make our game more exciting, more competitive and safer,” said CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, who is also the Chair of the CFL’s Rules Committee. “We feel these four rule changes help address all of those areas and improve an already great game.”
Here is how the use of instant replay will be expanded for the 2011 season:
When a quarterback drops back to pass, is hit and the ball comes out, and the play is ruled an incomplete pass, the defensive team can challenge the call. The new rule allows the Command Centre be allowed to overturn the call on the field, declare the play a fumble, and award possession to the defensive team if the ball had been recovered immediately. In prior seasons, the Command Centre could only review whether the play constituted an incomplete pass or a fumble, but it could not award possession.
When an on-field official rules an incomplete pass, the offensive team can challenge the ruling, hoping to have the Command Centre rule it a completed pass. Under the new explanded use of instant replay, a defensive team that believes the ball was caught, and then fumbled, can also challenge the on-field ruling. And the Command Centre could award the defensive team possession of the ball if it decides it was indeed caught, then fumbled, and then recovered immediately. In prior seasons, the Command Centre could only rule if the pass was complete or incomplete; it could not award possession.
In both of these instances, the defensive team would be awarded the ball where it is recovered. The Command Centre could not award return yards after the recovery.
Here is a look at the three other rules that will be changed for the upcoming season:
Eliminating Blocking Below the Waist after a Completed Pass:
To promote player safety, only blocking above the defender’s waist will be allowed following a completed pass across the line of scrimmage. Blocking below the waist on such a play would result in a 10 yard penalty. Blocking below the waist had previously been eliminated on kick returns, interception returns, and fumble returns. It would still be allowed on running plays and passes completed behind the line of scrimmage.
Punting Out of Bounds:
When a punt goes out of bounds in flight in between the 20 yard lines, the receiving team should have the option of taking the ball where it went out of bounds plus a ten yard penalty against the kicking team, or requiring the kicking team to re-kick ten yards back from the original line of scrimmage. Currently, the receiving team can either take the ball where it went out of bounds or require a re-kick ten yards back.
If a player is pushed out of bounds by an opponent, he can return to the field of play and make a play. If he goes out of bounds on his own, or is bumped out of bounds by a teammate, he cannot legally participate in the play. This clarifies the previous version of the rule, which does not specify bodily contact from an opponent.
The CFL Rules Committee is made up of head coaches, general managers, team presidents, league officials and a representative of the CFL Players’ Association.
The above rule changes were recommended by the CFL’s Rules Committee who meets each off-season to discuss the rules of the games. This year they met in Toronto prior to the Evaluation Camp presented by Reebok on March 4. The 2011 CFL Draft is scheduled for May 8 at 12:30 ET.
The 2011 CFL season opens with RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend when the Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes host the B.C. Lions on Thursday, June 30 at 7:00pm ET on TSN / RDS. Opening weekend continues on Canada Day with a double header as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium at 6:00pm ET (TSN) followed by the Calgary Stampeders hosting the Toronto Argonauts at 9:00pm ET. RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend wraps-up with the Edmonton Eskimos playing the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, July 3 at 7:00pm ET (TSN).