March 3, 2020

Cauz: In defence of the rouge

B.C. Lions' Sergio Castillo (41) kicks a field goal as Danny O'Brien (2) holds during the first half of a CFL football game against the Montreal Alouettes in Vancouver, on Saturday September 28, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Listen, the last thing I would ever want to do is to start a war between myself and one of the many talented people that contribute to all things three down football.

Oh, sure, I’m a wee bit snarky when it comes to my picks record (winner the last three years in a row) but I always try my best to highlight the fantastic work that is done all over this platform. However, when I read that our glorious commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, is considering tweaking the rules concerning the most Canadian of Canadian rules — the rouge — and that this possible refinement is getting support ’round these parts? Well, that is where I have to step in.

Jamie Nye wrote a blog post on March 2 applauding the idea that a missed field goal would no longer be worth a point if the ball sailed out of bounds. The only way our beloved rouge will be bestowed would be on those occasions where the returner elects to take a knee rather than attempt a return from the end zone.

» Muamba trying to check Grey Cup off bucket list
» Darby ready to help new-look Argos
» MMQB: An abundance of potential


Now, we are nowhere close to this becoming rule of law but it is an idea that is at least being entertained. Jamie, in these fractured times that we live in, I can’t believe you have waded into such contentious waters over not only tradition but also against one of your very own, former Saskatchewan kicker Chris Milo!

For those of you who are not rouge aficionados (and really, shame on you for that) back in 2011, Milo recorded not only the longest punt in CFL history but also the longest rouge ever at 108 yards in a 19-3 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

You can hear the roar of approval from the crowd that all bathed in the glory of the rouge. I believe this play helped inspire Saskatchewan to the win. At the very least we can all agree it was the most exciting moment in an absolute dud of a game featuring four quarterbacks. Kevin Glenn, Quinton Porter, Ryan Dinwiddie and Cole Bergquist combined for 57 pass attempts, completing just 27 of those passes for a whopping 363 yards and four interceptions.

Sure, this specific point awarded to the Roughriders would actually fit in with Jamie’s criteria of the acceptable time for it to be allowed, but you know it won’t stop there!

Once the anti-rouge-ists are allowed one concession they will keep coming until the rouge is eradicated from the Canadian landscape. As for the idea that the rouge “rewards failure” I would like to turn to Toronto Argonauts broadcaster Mike Hogan and his rebuttal via his Twitter account to such fallacy: “Going back to the game’s rugby roots, the rouge rewards the team for the 5-10 plays to get into a position to have the ball cross the goal line. It’s a reward for gaining field position, not for failure.”

Rather than a reward for failure, the rouge is a mini-bonus for everyone, Matthew Cauz argues (Arthur Ward/

The rouge is a reward for stringing together several first downs, for being able to open holes for running backs, proper route running by receivers and protecting quarterbacks from marauding pass rushers. Don’t they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts?

You know, come to think of it, the rouge is a kind of a mini-bonus for everyone. The offence gets compensated for the work they’ve done but at one only a single point the benefit is still only minimal. It can be viewed as a punishment for not being able to score a touchdown.

As for the defensive side, yes, a shutout is always preferable but that lone point can be seen as a reward for tightening up and denying the opponent from crossing the goal line. It isn’t perfect but at least both sides, beyond the field goal kicker, come away with some sense of satisfaction.

I will never be in favour of any rule that will lead to fewer points on the board. No, it’s not as glorious as Dane Evans going deep to Brandon Banks or Andrew Harris exerting his will from the three yard line but points are still points. The rouge helps young school children learn one of our two official languages and it gave us such iconic moments as the CFL Draft on ‘The Simpsons’.

Listen, I get the spirit of the argument put forward by Jamie about not rewarding a team for missing an 18-yard field goal. I just don’t want to live in a world where eventually we see the complete abolition of the rouge.

We would be robbed of this:
1. The threat of the rouge led to the chaos at the end of this wild game between Montreal and Toronto, where it was pure kicking mayhem.

2. A game-winning tackle by Saskatchewan over Ottawa.

3. Finally, an example of where a missed field directly led to a win. This time by the BC Lions over the Argonauts after Chris Rainey couldn’t properly field the ball.

So in this final case the Lions were in fact rewarded for their “failure.” Imagine that.

Long live the rouge!