Rules receive fine-tuning for 2023 season

TORONTO — The CFL Board of Governors have unanimously approved a set of rule changes proposed by the league’s Rules Committee as teams continue preparations for the upcoming season.

The 2023 updates to the rule book follow the substantive rule changes introduced last season that resulted from the CFL’s extensive product review.

“Last season’s changes yielded positive results across several key metrics,” said associate vice-president of officiating, Darren Hackwood.

“The changes being introduced this year are focused on fine-tuning the rules from a health and safety perspective and to refine certain nuances in the game. These updates will build upon last season’s changes as the league and the Rules Committee continue to measure the impacts of the 2022 product review.”

CFL rookie camps open on May 10, followed by training camp on May 14. The season kicks off on Thursday, June 8 with the BC Lions traveling to Calgary to take on the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium. The season will conclude on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton with the 110th Grey Cup.

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The requirement for the ball to be touched prior to ruling a rouge on a kickoff has been removed.

  • This change aligns the rouge rule on kickoffs with all other types of kick plays.

A safety has been added to the options for holding in the team’s own goal area.

  • When a team commits a holding foul in their own goal area while in possession of the ball in their goal area, a safety has been added to the options available to the other team.

The defensive formation has been restricted on kick plays.

  • The number of players within two yards of the line of scrimmage on either side of the long snapper has been restricted to a maximum of six players at the snap.
  • This restriction does not apply if the offence lines up in an unbalanced line or if an offensive player moves or motions from their initial position.
  • This restriction only applies to field goal and kicked convert attempts.
  • This change is in the spirit of player safety to avoid grossly overloading the defensive line on one side of the long snapper.

Avoidable contact with an official

  • It shall be illegal for a player, or an authorized member of a team bench area, to make avoidable contact with an official.
  • This includes providing a safe workspace by keeping the sidelines clear during play. Officials cannot properly officiate a game if their attention is being diverted to the sidelines in hopes of avoiding collision or injury.
  • When an official is contacted by a player, or an authorized member of a team bench area, officials will be permitted to check with the command centre to assist with a judgment as to whether contact was “avoidable” and if so, a 10-yard objectionable conduct penalty will be applied.
  • This change will allow the officiating staff to call these actions confidently with command centre help. It will also bring much needed attention to the requirement of providing a safe workspace for officials.
  • This change complements and builds upon existing rules regarding contacting officials that may result in ejections.

Move the drive start position up five yards in additional scenarios:

  1. Section 5A – If a kicked ball strikes the goal post assembly in flight and when Team B intercepts a ball or recovers a fumble in their own goal area, the next point of scrimmage will be the 30-yard line.
  2. Section 5B – Penalty applications with fouls in the goal area will be applied from the 30- or 15-yard line dependent upon the foul.
  3. Section 6C – When a penalty or ruling awards possession of the ball to the opponent, the point of possession will move up 5 yards.
  4. These changes align the drive start adjustment made in 2022 with other scenarios.

Teams cannot have players wear 0 and 00

Players shall be identified by the following numbering:

  • Eligible receivers will wear numbers 0 or 00-49 and 70-99.
  • Ineligible receivers will wear numbers 50-69.

Having two players on the same team wearing 0 and 00 creates significant issues with the statistical and scouting systems the teams deploy. This change allows only one player from each team to wear the number 0 or 00.

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