Canadian football

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Canadian football
JoffreyReynolds.jpg
The Calgary Stampeders (at right, in red) versus the Montreal Alouettes.
Highest governing body IFAF (used for representing country & same format from Gridiron Football Rules)
Canadian Football League (professional)
Football Canada (amateur)
Nicknames Football, Gridiron football
Characteristics
Contact Full-contact
Team members12 at a time
TypeOutdoor
Equipment Football
Glossary Glossary of Canadian football
Presence
Olympic No
Diagram of a Canadian football field Canadian football field.png
Diagram of a Canadian football field

Canadian football (French: football canadien) is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area (end zone).

Contents

In Canada, the term "football" may refer to Canadian football and American football collectively, or to either sport specifically, depending on context; outside of Canada, the term Canadian football is used exclusively to describe this sport, even in the United States (the term gridiron football [or, more rarely, North American football] is also used worldwide as well to refer to both sports collectively). The two sports have shared origins and are closely related but have some key differences, and both sports had their modern rules developed independently from each other.

Rugby football in Canada originated in the early 1860s, [1] and over time, the game known as Canadian football developed. Both the Canadian Football League (CFL), the sport's top professional league, and Football Canada, the governing body for amateur play, trace their roots to 1880 and the founding of the Canadian Rugby Football Union.

The CFL is the most popular and only major professional Canadian football league. Its championship game, the Grey Cup, is one of Canada's largest sporting events, attracting a broad television audience. In 2009, about 40% of Canada's population watched part of the game; [2] in 2014, it was closer to 33%, peaking at 5.1 million viewers in the fourth quarter. [3]

Canadian football is also played at the bantam, high school, junior, collegiate, and semi-professional levels: the Canadian Junior Football League, formed May 8, 1974, and Quebec Junior Football League are leagues for players aged 18–22, many post-secondary institutions compete in U Sports football for the Vanier Cup, and senior leagues such as the Alberta Football League have grown in popularity in recent years. Great achievements in Canadian football are enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame located in Hamilton, Ontario.

Other organizations across Canada perform senior league Canadian football during the summer.

History

The first documented football match was a practice game played on November 9, 1861, at University College, University of Toronto (approximately 400 yards or 370 metres west of Queen's Park). One of the participants in the game involving University of Toronto students was Sir William Mulock, later chancellor of the school. [1] A football club was formed at the university soon afterward, although its rules of play at this stage are unclear. [4]

The first written account of a game played was on October 15, 1862, on the Montreal Cricket Grounds. It was between the First Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Second Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards resulting in a win by the Grenadier Guards 3 goals, 2 rouges to nothing.[ citation needed ] In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland, Frederick A. Bethune, and Christopher Gwynn, one of the founders of Milton, Massachusetts, devised rules based on rugby football. [1] The game gradually gained a following, with the Hamilton Football Club formed on November 3, 1869. Montreal formed a team April 8, 1872. Toronto was formed on October 4, 1873, and the Ottawa FBC on September 20, 1876. (Of those clubs, only the Toronto club is still in continuous operation today.)

This rugby-football soon became popular at Montreal's McGill University. McGill challenged Harvard University to a game, in 1874 using a hybrid game of English rugby devised by the University of McGill. [5] [6]

The first attempt to establish a proper governing body and adopted the current set of Rugby rules was the Foot Ball Association of Canada, organized on March 24, 1873, followed by the Canadian Rugby Football Union (CRFU) founded June 12, 1880, [7] which included teams from Ontario and Quebec. Later both the Ontario and Quebec Rugby Football Union (ORFU and QRFU) were formed (January 1883), and then the Interprovincial (1907) and Western Interprovincial Football Union (1936) (IRFU and WIFU). [8] The CRFU reorganized into an umbrella organization forming the Canadian Rugby Union (CRU) in 1891. [9] The immediate forerunner to the current Canadian Football League was established in 1956 when the IRFU and WIFU formed an umbrella organization, the Canadian Football Council (CFC). [10] In 1958 the CFC left the CRU to become the CFL.

The Burnside rules closely resembling American football (which are similar rules developed by Walter Camp for that sport) that were incorporated in 1903 by the ORFU, was an effort to distinguish it from a more rugby-oriented game. The Burnside Rules had teams reduced to 12 men per side, introduced the snap-back system, required the offensive team to gain 10 yards on three downs, eliminated the throw-in from the sidelines, allowed only six men on the line, stated that all goals by kicking were to be worth two points and the opposition was to line up 10 yards from the defenders on all kicks. The rules were an attempt to standardize the rules throughout the country. The CIRFU, QRFU and CRU refused to adopt the new rules at first. [11] Forward passes were not allowed in the Canadian game until 1929, and touchdowns, which had been five points, were increased to six points in 1956, in both cases several decades after the Americans had adopted the same changes. The primary differences between the Canadian and American games stem from rule changes that the American side of the border adopted but the Canadian side did not (originally, both sides had three downs, goal posts on the goal lines and unlimited forward motion, but the American side modified these rules and the Canadians did not). The Canadian field width was one rule that was not based on American rules, as the Canadian game was played in wider fields and stadiums that were not as narrow as the American stadiums.

The Grey Cup was established in 1909 after being donated by Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada, as the championship of teams under the CRU for the Rugby Football Championship of Canada. [11] Initially an amateur competition, it eventually became dominated by professional teams in the 1940s and early 1950s. The Ontario Rugby Football Union, the last amateur organization to compete for the trophy, withdrew from competition after the 1954 season. [12] The move ushered in the modern era of Canadian professional football, culminating in the formation of the present-day Canadian Football League in 1958.

Canadian football has mostly been confined to Canada, with the United States being the only other country to have hosted high-level Canadian football games. The CFL's controversial "South Division" as it would come to be officially known attempted to put CFL teams in the United States playing under Canadian rules between 1992 and 1995. The move was aborted after three years; the Baltimore Stallions were the most successful of the numerous Americans teams to play in the CFL, winning the 83rd Grey Cup. Continuing financial losses, a lack of proper Canadian football venues, a pervasive belief that the American teams were simply pawns to provide the struggling Canadian teams with expansion fee revenue, and the return of the NFL to Baltimore prompted the end of Canadian football on the American side of the border.

The CFL hosted the Touchdown Atlantic regular season game at Nova Scotia in 2005 and New Brunswick in 2010, 2011 and 2013. In 2013, Newfoundland and Labrador became the last province to establish football at the minor league level, with teams playing on the Avalon Peninsula and in Labrador City.[ citation needed ] The province however has yet to host a college or CFL game. Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the provinces, has also never hosted a CFL game.

League play

Footballs and a helmet at a Calgary Stampeders (CFL) team practice CFL footballs and helmet.jpg
Footballs and a helmet at a Calgary Stampeders (CFL) team practice

Canadian football is played at several levels in Canada; the top league is the professional nine-team Canadian Football League (CFL). The CFL regular season begins in June, and playoffs for the Grey Cup are completed by late November. [13] In cities with outdoor stadiums such as Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Regina, low temperatures and icy field conditions can seriously affect the outcome of a game.

Amateur football is governed by Football Canada. At the university level, 27 teams play in four conferences under the auspices of U Sports (known from 2001–2016 as Canadian Interuniversity Sport); the U Sports champion is awarded the Vanier Cup. [14] Junior football is played by many after high school before joining the university ranks. There are 18 junior teams in three divisions in the Canadian Junior Football League competing for the Canadian Bowl. [15] The Quebec Junior Football League includes teams from Ontario and Quebec who battle for the Manson Cup.

Semi-professional leagues have grown in popularity in recent years, with the Alberta Football League becoming especially popular. The Northern Football Conference formed in Ontario in 1954 has also surged in popularity for former college players who do not continue to professional football. The Ontario champion plays against the Alberta champion for the "National Championship". The Canadian Major Football League is the governing body for the semi-professional game.

Women's football has gained attention in recent years in Canada. The first Canadian women's league to begin operations was the Maritime Women's Football League in 2004. The largest women's league is the Western Women's Canadian Football League.

The field

Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, in 2005. A Canadian Football League venue. Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, August 2005.jpg
Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, in 2005. A Canadian Football League venue.

The Canadian football field is 150 yards (137 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide, within which the goal areas are 20 yards (18 m) deep, and the goal lines are 110 yards (101 m) apart. Weighted pylons are placed on the inside corner of the intersections of the goal lines and end lines. Including the endzones, the total area of the field is 87,750 square feet (8,152 m2).

At each goal line is a set of 40-foot-high (12 m) goalposts, which consist of two uprights joined by an 18 12-foot-long (5.6 m) crossbar which is 10 feet (3 m) above the goal line. The goalposts may be H-shaped (both posts fixed in the ground) although in the higher-calibre competitions the tuning-fork design (supported by a single curved post behind the goal line, so that each post starts 10 feet (3 m) above the ground) is preferred.

The sides of the field are marked by white sidelines, the goal line is marked in white or yellow, and white lines are drawn laterally across the field every 5 yards (4.6 m) from the goal line. These lateral lines are called "yard lines" and often marked with the distance in yards from and an arrow pointed toward the nearest goal line. Prior to the early 1980s, arrows were not used and all yard lines (in both multiples of 5 and 10) were usually marked with the distance to the goal line, including the goal line itself which was marked with either a "0" or "00"; in most stadiums today, only the yard markers in multiples of 10 are marked with numbers, with the goal line sometimes being marked with a "G". The centre (55-yard) line usually is marked with a "C" (or, more rarely, with a "55"). "Hash marks" are painted in white, parallel to the yardage lines, at 1 yard (0.9 m) intervals, 24 yards (21.9 m) from the sidelines.

On fields that have a surrounding running track, such as Molson Stadium and many universities, the end zones are often cut off in the corners to accommodate the track. Until 1986, [16] the end zones were 25 yards (23 m) deep, giving the field an overall length of 160 yards (150 m), and a correspondingly larger cutoff could be required at the corners. The first field to feature the shorter 20-yard endzones was Vancouver's BC Place (home of the BC Lions), which opened in 1983. This was particularly common among U.S.-based teams during the CFL's American expansion, where few American stadiums were able to accommodate the much longer and noticeably wider CFL field. The end zones in Toronto's BMO Field are only 18 yards instead of 20 yards.

Play of the game

Teams advance across the field through the execution of quick, distinct plays, which involve the possession of a brown, prolate spheroid ball with ends tapered to a point. The ball has two one-inch-wide white stripes.

Start of play

At the beginning of a match, an official tosses a coin and allows the captain of the visiting team to call heads or tails. The captain of the team winning the coin toss is given the option of having first choice, or of deferring first choice to the other captain. The captain making first choice may either choose a) to kick off or receive the kick at the beginning of the half, or b) which direction of the field to play in. The remaining choice is given to the opposing captain. Before the resumption of play in the second half, the captain that did not have first choice in the first half is given first choice. Teams usually choose to defer, so it is typical for the team that wins the coin toss to kick to begin the first half and receive to begin the second.

Play begins at the start of each half with one team place-kicking the ball from its own 35-yard line. Both teams then attempt to catch the ball. The player who recovers the ball may run while holding the ball, or lateral throw the ball to a teammate.

Stoppage of play

Play stops when the ball carrier's knee, elbow, or any other body part aside from the feet and hands, is forced to the ground (a tackle); when a forward pass is not caught on the fly (during a scrimmage); when a touchdown (see below) or a field goal is scored; when the ball leaves the playing area by any means (being carried, thrown, or fumbled out of bounds); or when the ball carrier is in a standing position but can no longer move forwards (called forward progress). If no score has been made, the next play starts from scrimmage.

Scrimmage

Before scrimmage, an official places the ball at the spot it was at the stop of clock, but no nearer than 24 yards from the sideline or 1 yard from the goal line. The line parallel to the goal line passing through the ball (line from sideline to sideline for the length of the ball) is referred to as the line of scrimmage. This line is similar to "no-man's land"; players must stay on their respective sides of this line until the play has begun again. For a scrimmage to be valid the team in possession of the football must have seven players, excluding the quarterback, within one yard of the line of scrimmage. The defending team must stay a yard or more back from the line of scrimmage.

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo looks down field with the ball during the 93rd Grey Cup game at BC Place. Anthony Calvillo game action, 93rd Grey Cup.jpg
Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo looks down field with the ball during the 93rd Grey Cup game at BC Place.

On the field at the beginning of a play are two teams of 12 (and not 11 as in American football). The team in possession of the ball is the offence and the team defending is referred to as the defence. Play begins with a backwards pass through the legs (the snap) by a member of the offensive team, to another member of the offensive team. This is usually the quarterback or punter, but a "direct snap" to a running back is also not uncommon. If the quarterback or punter receives the ball, he may then do any of the following:

Each play constitutes a down. The offence must advance the ball at least ten yards towards the opponents' goal line within three downs or forfeit the ball to their opponents. Once ten yards have been gained the offence gains a new set of three downs (rather than the four downs given in American football). Downs do not accumulate. If the offensive team completes 10 yards on their first play, they lose the other two downs and are granted another set of three. If a team fails to gain ten yards in two downs they usually punt the ball on third down or try to kick a field goal (see below), depending on their position on the field. The team may, however use its third down in an attempt to advance the ball and gain a cumulative 10 yards.

Change in possession

The ball changes possession in the following instances:

Rules of contact

There are many rules to contact in this type of football. First, the only player on the field who may be legally tackled is the player currently in possession of the football (the ball carrier). Second, a receiver, that is to say, an offensive player sent down the field to receive a pass, may not be interfered with (have his motion impeded, be blocked, etc.) unless he is within one yard of the line of scrimmage (instead of 5 yards (4.6 m) in American football). Any player may block another player's passage, so long as he does not hold or trip the player he intends to block. The kicker may not be contacted after the kick but before his kicking leg returns to the ground (this rule is not enforced upon a player who has blocked a kick), and the quarterback, having already thrown the ball, may not be hit or tackled.

Infractions and penalties

Infractions of the rules are punished with penalties, typically a loss of yardage of 5, 10 or 15 yards against the penalized team. Minor violations such as offside (a player from either side encroaching into scrimmage zone before the play starts) are penalized five yards, more serious penalties (such as holding) are penalized 10 yards, and severe violations of the rules (such as face-masking) are typically penalized 15 yards. Depending on the penalty, the penalty yardage may be assessed from the original line of scrimmage, from where the violation occurred (for example, for a pass interference infraction), or from where the ball ended after the play. Penalties on the offence may, or may not, result in a loss of down; penalties on the defence may result in a first down being automatically awarded to the offence. For particularly severe conduct, the game official(s) may eject players (ejected players may be substituted for), or in exceptional cases, declare the game over and award victory to one side or the other. Penalties do not affect the yard line which the offence must reach to gain a first down (unless the penalty results in a first down being awarded); if a penalty against the defence results in the first down yardage being attained, then the offence is awarded a first down.

If the defence is penalized on a two-point convert attempt and the offence chooses to attempt the play again, the offence must attempt another two-point convert; it cannot change to a one-point attempt. Conversely, the offence can attempt a two-point convert following a defensive penalty on a one-point attempt.

Penalties may occur before a play starts (such as offside), during the play (such as holding), or in a dead-ball situation (such as unsportsmanlike conduct).

Penalties never result in a score for the offence. For example, a point-of-foul infraction committed by the defence in their end zone is not ruled a touchdown, but instead advances the ball to the one-yard line with an automatic first down. For a distance penalty, if the yardage is greater than half the distance to the goal line, then the ball is advanced half the distance to the goal line, though only up to the one-yard line (unlike American football, in Canadian football no scrimmage may start inside either one-yard line). If the original penalty yardage would have resulted in a first down or moving the ball past the goal line, a first down is awarded.

In most cases, the non-penalized team will have the option of declining the penalty; in which case the results of the previous play stand as if the penalty had not been called. One notable exception to this rule is if the kicking team on a 3rd down punt play is penalized before the kick occurs: the receiving team may not decline the penalty and take over on downs. After the kick is made, change of possession occurs and subsequent penalties are assessed against either the spot where the ball is caught, or the runback.

Kicking

Canadian football distinguishes four ways of kicking the ball:

Place kick
Kicking a ball held on the ground by a teammate, or, on a kickoff (resuming play following a score), optionally placed on a tee (two different tees are used for kickoffs and convert/field goal attempts).
Drop kick
Kicking a ball after bouncing it on the ground. Although rarely used today, it has the same status in scoring as a place kick. This play is part of the game's rugby heritage, and was largely made obsolete when the ball with pointed ends was adopted. Unlike the American game, Canadian rules allow a drop kick to be attempted at any time by any player, but the move is very rare.
Punt
Kicking the ball after it has been released from the kicker's hand and before it hits the ground. Punts may not score a field goal, even if one should travel through the uprights. As with drop kicks, players may punt at any time.
Dribbled ball
A dribbled ball is one that has been kicked while not in possession of a player, for example, a loose ball following a fumble, a blocked kick, a kickoff, or a kick from scrimmage. The kicker of the dribbled ball and any player onside when the ball was kicked may legally recover the ball.

On any kicking play, all onside players (the kicker, and teammates behind the kicker at the time of the kick) may recover and advance the ball. Players on the kicking team who are not onside may not approach within five yards of the ball until it has been touched by the receiving team, or by an onside teammate.

Scoring

The methods of scoring are:

Touchdown 
Achieved when the ball is in possession of a player in the opponent's end zone, or when the ball in the possession of a player crosses or touches the plane of the opponent's goal-line, worth 6 points (5 points until 1956). A touchdown in Canadian football is often referred to as a "major score" or simply a "major."
Conversion (or convert) 
After a touchdown, the team that scored gets one scrimmage play to attempt to add one or two more points. If they make what would normally be a field goal, they score one point (a "point-after"); what would normally be a touchdown scores two points (a "two-point conversion"). In amateur games, this scrimmage is taken at the opponents' 5-yard line. The CFL formerly ran all conversion attempts from the 5-yard line as well (for a 12-yard kick), but starting in 2015 the line of scrimmage for one-point kick attempts became the 25-yard line (for a 32-yard kick), while two-point attempts are scrimmaged at the 3-yard line. [19] No matter what happens on the convert attempt, play then continues with a kickoff (see below).
Field goal 
Scored by a drop kick or place kick (except on a kickoff) when the ball, after being kicked and without again touching the ground, goes over the cross bar and between the goal posts (or between lines extended from the top of the goal posts) of the opponent's goal, worth three points. If the ball hits the upright above the cross-bar before going through, it is not considered a dead ball, and the points are scored. (Rule 5, Sect 4, Art 4(d)) If the field goal is missed, but the ball is not returnable after crossing the dead-ball-line, then it constitutes a rouge (see below).
Safety 
Scored when the ball becomes dead in the possession of a team in its own goal area, or when the ball touches or crosses the dead-line, or side-line-in-goal and touches the ground, a player, or some object beyond these lines as a result of the team scored against making a play. It is worth two points. This is different from a single (see below) in that the team scored against begins with possession of the ball. The most common safety is on a third down punt from the end zone, in which the kicker decides not to punt and keeps the ball in his team's own goal area. The ball is then turned over to the receiving team (who gained the two points), by way of a kickoff from the 25-yard line or scrimmaging from the 35-yard (32 m) line on their side of the field.
Single (rouge)  
Scored when the ball becomes dead in the possession of a team in its own goal area, or when the ball touches or crosses the dead-line, or side-line-in-goal, and touches the ground, a player, or some object beyond these lines as a result of the ball having been kicked from the field of play into the goal area by the scoring team. It is worth one point. This is different from a Safety (see above) in that team scored against receives possession of the ball after the score.
Officially, the single is called a rouge (French for "red") but is often referred to as a single. The exact derivation of the term is unknown, but it has been thought that in early Canadian football, the scoring of a single was signalled with a red flag. A rouge is also a method of scoring in the Eton field game, which dates from at least 1815.

Resumption of play

Resumption of play following a score is conducted under procedures which vary with the type of score.

  • Following a touchdown and convert attempt (successful or not), play resumes with the scoring team kicking off from its own 35-yard line (45-yard line in amateur leagues).
  • Following a field goal, the non-scoring team may choose for play to resume either with a kickoff as above, or by scrimmaging the ball from its own 35-yard line.
  • Following a safety, the scoring team may choose for play to resume in either of the above ways, or it may choose to kick off from its own 35-yard line.
  • Following a single/rouge, play resumes with the non-scoring team scrimmaging from its own 35-yard line, unless the single is awarded on a missed field goal, in which case the non-scoring team scrimmages from either the 35-yard line or the yard line from which the field goal was attempted, whichever is greater.

Game timing

The game consists of two 30-minute halves, each of which is divided into two 15-minute quarters. The clock counts down from 15:00 in each quarter. Timing rules change when there are three minutes remaining in a half. A short break interval of 2 minutes occurs after the end of each quarter (a longer break of 15 minutes at halftime), and the two teams then change goals.

In the first 27 minutes of a half, the clock stops when:

The clock starts again when the referee determines the ball is ready for scrimmage, except for team time-outs (where the clock starts at the snap), after a time count foul (at the snap) and kickoffs (where the clock starts not at the kick but when the ball is first touched after the kick).

In the last three minutes of a half, the clock stops whenever the ball becomes dead. On kickoffs, the clock starts when the ball is first touched after the kick. On scrimmages, when it starts depends on what ended the previous play. The clock starts when the ball is ready for scrimmage except that it starts on the snap when on the previous play

During the last three minutes of a half, the penalty for failure to place the ball in play within the 20-second play clock, known as a "time count violation" (this foul is known as "delay of game" in American football), is dramatically different from during the first 27 minutes. Instead of the penalty being 5 yards with the down repeated, the base penalty (except during convert attempts) becomes loss of down on first or second down, and 10 yards on third down with the down repeated. In addition, as noted previously, the referee can give possession to the defence for repeated deliberate time count violations on third down.

The clock does not run during convert attempts in the last three minutes of a half. If the 15 minutes of a quarter expire while the ball is live, the quarter is extended until the ball becomes dead. If a quarter's time expires while the ball is dead, the quarter is extended for one more scrimmage. A quarter cannot end while a penalty is pending: after the penalty yardage is applied, the quarter is extended one scrimmage. Note that the non-penalized team has the option to decline any penalty it considers disadvantageous, so a losing team cannot indefinitely prolong a game by repeatedly committing infractions.

Overtime

In the CFL, if the game is tied at the end of regulation play, then each team is given an equal number of offensive possessions to break the tie. A coin toss is held to determine which team will take possession first; the first team scrimmages the ball at the opponent's 35-yard line and conducts a series of downs until it scores or loses possession. If the team scores a touchdown, starting with the 2010 season, it is required to attempt a two-point conversion. [20] The other team then scrimmages the ball at the opponent's 35-yard line and has the same opportunity to score. After the teams have completed their possessions, if one team is ahead, then it is declared the winner; otherwise, the two teams each get another chance to score, scrimmaging from the other 35-yard line. After this second round, if there is still no winner, during the regular season the game ends as a tie. In a playoff game, the teams continue to attempt to score from alternating 35-yard lines, until one team is leading after both have had an equal number of possessions.

In U Sports football, for the Uteck Bowl, Mitchell Bowl, and Vanier Cup, the same overtime procedure is followed until there is a winner.

Officials and fouls

Officials are responsible for enforcing game rules and monitoring the clock. All officials carry a whistle and wear black-and-white striped shirts and black hats except for the referee, whose hat is white. Each carries a weighted yellow flag that is thrown to the ground to signal that a foul has been called. An official who spots multiple fouls will throw their hat as a secondary signal. [21] The seven officials (of a standard seven-man crew; lower levels of play up to the college level use fewer officials) on the field are each tasked with a different set of responsibilities: [21]

A modern down indicator box is mounted on a pole and is used to mark the current line of scrimmage. The number on the marker is changed using a dial. First down marker.png
A modern down indicator box is mounted on a pole and is used to mark the current line of scrimmage. The number on the marker is changed using a dial.

Another set of officials, the chain crew, are responsible for moving the chains. The chains, consisting of two large sticks with a 10-yard-long chain between them, are used to measure for a first down. The chain crew stays on the sidelines during the game, but if requested by the officials they will briefly bring the chains on to the field to measure. A typical chain crew will have at least three people—two members of the chain crew will hold either of the two sticks, while a third will hold the down marker. The down marker, a large stick with a dial on it, is flipped after each play to indicate the current down and is typically moved to the approximate spot of the ball. The chain crew system has been used for over 100 years and is considered to be an accurate measure of distance, rarely subject to criticism from either side. [22]

Severe weather

In the CFL, a game must be delayed if lightning strikes within 10 km (6 mi) of the stadium or for other severe weather conditions, or if dangerous weather is anticipated. In the regular season, if play has not resumed after 1 hour and at least half of the third quarter has been completed, the score stands as final; [23] this happened for the first time on August 9, 2019, when a SaskatchewanMontreal game was stopped late in the third quarter. [24]

If the stoppage is earlier in the game, or if it is a playoff or Grey Cup game, play may be stopped for up to 3 hours and then resume. After 3 hours of stoppage, play is terminated at least for the day. A playoff or Grey Cup game must then be resumed the following day at the point where it left off. [23]

In the regular season, if a game is stopped for 3 hours and one team is leading by at least a certain amount, then that team is awarded a win. The size of lead required is 21, 17, or 13 depending on whether the stoppage is in the first, second, or third quarter respectively. If neither team is leading by that much and they are not scheduled to play again in the season, the game is declared a tie. [23]

If a regular-season game is stopped for 3 hours and neither team is leading by the required amount to be awarded a win, but the two teams are scheduled to play again later in the season, then the stopped game is decided by a "two-possession shootout" procedure held before the later game is started. The procedure is generally similar to overtime in the CFL, with two major exceptions: each team must play exactly two possessions regardless of what happens; and while the score from the stopped game is not added to the shootout score, it is used instead to determine the yard line where each team starts its possessions, so the team that was leading still has an advantage. [23]

Players


The offence (yellow and white) are first-and-ten at their 54-yard line against the defence (red and black) in a U Sports football game. The twelve players of each side and the umpire (one of seven officials) are shown. The offence is in a one-back offence with five receivers.
Note: The labels are clickable.

Offence

The offensive positions found in Canadian football have, for the most part, evolved throughout the years, and are not officially defined in the rules. However, among offensive players, the rules recognize three different types of players:

Down linemen
Down linemen are players who, at the start of every play, line up at the line of scrimmage; once in their stance, they may not move until the play begins. The offence must have at least seven players lined up at the line of scrimmage on every play. The exception to this rule is the player (typically the centre) who snaps the ball to the quarterback. Linemen generally do not run with the ball (unless they recover it on a fumble) or receive a hand-off or lateral pass, but there is no rule against it. Interior linemen (that is, excluding the two players at either end of the scrimmage line) are ineligible receivers; they may not receive a forward pass either. (The two offensive ends on the line of scrimmage may receive forward passes, and may be in motion along the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.)
Backs
Backs line up behind the linemen; they may run with the ball, receive handoffs, laterals, and forward passes. They may also be in motion before the play starts.

Specific offensive positions include:

Backs/Receivers
Quarterback
Generally the leader of the offence. Calls all plays to teammates, receives the ball off of snap, and initiates the action usually by running the ball himself, passing the ball to a receiver, or handing the ball off to another back. In Canada, this position is also known as the pivot.
Fullback
Multiple roles including pass protection, receiving, and blocking for the running back. On short yardage situations may also carry the ball.
Running back/Tailback
As the name implies, the main runner on the team. Also an eligible receiver and blocker on pass plays.
Wide receiver
Lines up on the line of scrimmage, usually at a distance from the centre. Runs a given route to make a successful play catch ball and gain yardage, not that a tight end can count as an eligible receiver so if one is on the wide outs field that the wideout cannot be on the line of scrimmage and may adopt a slotback start.
Slotback
Is an eligible receiver but lines up off the line (usually 8 yards back) of scrimmage and runs before snap and can not have any part on field over scrimmage or it's an off-side call
Down linemen
Centre
Snaps the ball to the quarterback. Most important pass blocker on pass plays. Calls offensive line plays.
Left/right guard
Stands to the left and right of the centre helps protect the quarterback, Usually very good run blockers to open holes up the middle for runners.
Left/right tackle
Stands on the ends of the offensive line, The biggest men on the line, usually well over 300 pounds (140 kg). Usually very good pass blockers.
Offensive lineman
Collective name for the centre, guards and tackles.

Defence

The rules do not constrain how the defence may arrange itself (other than the requirement that they must remain one yard behind the line of scrimmage until the play starts).

Cornerback
Covers the wide receivers on most plays.
Safety
Covers deep. Last line of defence, can offer run support or blitz.
Defensive halfback
Covers the slotback and helps contain the run from going to the outside.
Defensive back
Collective term for cornerback, safety and defensive halfback.
Nose tackle
Lineman across from centre, tries to get past the offensive-line or take double team and open holes for blitzes.
Defensive tackle
Inside defensive linemen try to break through the offensive line and open holes for linebackers.
Defensive end
Main rushing lineman. Rushes the quarterback and tries to contain rushers behind the line of scrimmage.
Defensive lineman
Collective term for defensive tackle (or nose tackle) and defensive end.
Middle linebacker
Lines up across from the centre 3 to 4 yds/m back. Quarterback of the defence. Calls plays for lineman and linebackers.
Weak-side linebacker
Lines up on the short side of field, and can drop into pass coverage or contain.
Strong-side linebacker
Lines up on the opposite side and usually rushes.

Special teams

Special teams generally refers to kicking plays, which typically involve a change in possession.

Holder
Receives the snap on field goal tries and converts; places the ball in position and holds it to be kicked by the kicker. This position is generally filled by a reserve quarterback; occasionally the starting quarterback or punter will fill in as holder.
Kicker
Kicks field goals, converts, kick-offs
Punter
Punts ball, usually on third downs
Returners
Fast, agile runners who specialize in fielding punts, field goals and kickoffs, attempting to advance them for better field position or a score.

See also

Related Research Articles

Free kick Wikipedia disambiguation page

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Down (gridiron football) in American/Canadian football, a period of time where one play takes place

A down is a period in which a play transpires in gridiron football. The down is a distinguishing characteristic of the game compared to other codes of football, but is synonymous with a "tackle" in rugby league. The team in possession of the football has a limited number of downs to advance ten yards or more towards their opponent's goal line. If they fail to advance that far, possession of the ball is turned over to the other team. In most situations, if a team reaches their final down they will punt to their opponent, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in range, they might instead attempt to score a field goal.

In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead on or behind a team's own goal line and the opposing team gave the ball the momentum, or impetus, to travel over or across the goal line. Since the 2018 season, touchbacks have also been awarded in college football on kickoffs that end in a fair catch by the receiving team between its own 25-yard line and goal line. Such impetus may be imparted by a kick, pass, fumble, or in certain instances by batting the ball. A touchback is not a play, but a result of events that may occur during a play. A touchback is the opposite of a safety with regard to impetus since a safety is scored when the defending team is responsible for the ball becoming dead on or behind its own goal line.

This is a glossary of terms used in Canadian football. The Glossary of American football article also covers many terms that are also used in the Canadian version of the game.

  1. Legally positioned at the kick-off or the snap. On kick-offs, members of the kicking team must be behind the kick-off line; members of the receiving team must be at least 10 yards from the kick-off line. On scrimmages, at the snap the offence must be behind the line of scrimmage; the defence must be at least one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
  2. A player of the kicking team who can legally recover the kick. The kicker himself and any teammates behind the ball at the time of the kick are onside. Thus on kick-offs all players of the kicking team are onside, but on other kicks usually only the kicker is. The holder on a place kick is not considered onside.
  1. A defensive position on scrimmages, also called free safety. Typical formations include a single safety, whose main duty is to cover wide receivers. See also defensive back.
  2. A two-point score. The defence scores a safety when the offence carries or passes the ball into its own goal area and then fails to run, pass, or kick the ball back into the field of play; when this term is used in this sense, it is also referred to as a safety touch.
Comparison of American and Canadian football

American and Canadian football are gridiron codes of football that are very similar. Both have their origins in rugby football. There are, however, some key differences.

In American and Canadian gridiron football, pass interference (PI) is a foul that occurs when a player interferes with an eligible receiver's ability to make a fair attempt to catch a forward pass. Pass interference may include tripping, pushing, pulling, or cutting in front of the receiver, covering the receiver's face, or pulling on the receiver's hands or arms. It does not include catching or batting the ball before it reaches the receiver. Once the ball touches any defensive player or eligible offensive receiver the above rules no longer apply and the defender may tackle the receiver or attempt to prevent him from gaining control of the ball. Once a forward pass is in the air it is a loose ball and thus any eligible receiver – all defensive players are eligible receivers – may try to catch it. When a defensive player catches a forward pass it is an interception and his team gains possession of the ball. Some actions that are defined as pass interference may be overlooked if the defender is attempting to catch or bat the ball rather than focusing on the receiver.

Strategy forms a major part of the game of American football, and both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent to score more points in order to win the game.

American football rules Rules for American football

Game play in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.

Kickoff (gridiron football)

A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, or scores a touchdown. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.

In Canadian football, the three-minute warning is given when three minutes of game time remain on the game clock in the first and second halves of a game. The three-minute warning stops the game clock in all cases. It is the Canadian football equivalent of the two-minute warning in the American game.

Comparison of American football and rugby union

A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

A comparison between American football and rugby league is possible because of their shared origins and similar game concepts. Rugby league is arguably the most similar sport to American football after Canadian football: both sports involve the concept of a limited number of downs/tackles and scoring touchdowns/tries takes clear precedence over goal-kicking.

Field goal means of scoring in American football and Canadian football

A field goal (FG) is a means of scoring in gridiron football. To score a field goal, the team in possession of the ball must place kick, or drop kick, the ball through the goal, i.e., between the uprights and over the crossbar. American football requires that a field goal must only come during a play from scrimmage, while Canadian football retains open field kicks and thus field goals may be scored at any time from anywhere on the field and by any player. The vast majority of field goals, in both codes, are place kicked. Drop kicked field goals were common in the early days of Gridiron football but are almost never done in modern times. In most leagues, a successful field goal awards three points.

All-purpose yards or all-purpose yardage is a gridiron football statistical measure. It is virtually the same as the statistic that some football leagues refer to as combined net yards. In the game of football, progress is measured by advancing the football towards the opposing team's goal line. Progress can be made during play by the offensive team by advancing the ball from its point of progress at the start of play known as the line of scrimmage or by the defensive team after taking possession of the football via a change of possession. When the offensive team advances the ball by rushing the football, the player who carries the ball is given credit for the difference in progress measured in rushing yards. When the offensive team advances the ball by pass reception, the player who catches the reception is given credit for the difference in progress measured in reception yards. Although the ball may also be advanced by penalty, these yards are not considered all-purpose yards. Progress lost via quarterback sacks is classified variously. Thus, all-purpose yards is a combined total of rushing yards, receiving yards, and all forms of return yards only. Some sources do not specify which types of return yards count toward this total because the most common forms of return yards are kick and punt return yards.

An official in Canadian football is a person who has responsibility in enforcing the rules and maintaining the order of the game, like their counterparts in the American game.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

Two-point conversion play in American and Canadian football

In gridiron football, a two-point conversion or two-point convert is a play a team attempts instead of kicking a one-point conversion immediately after it scores a touchdown. In a two-point conversion attempt, the team that just scored must run a play from scrimmage close to the opponent's goal line and advance the ball across the goal line in the same manner as if they were scoring a touchdown. If the team succeeds, it earns two additional points on top of the six points for the touchdown, for a total of eight points. If the team fails, no additional points are scored. In either case, if any time remains in the half, the team proceeds to a kickoff.

A comparison of Canadian football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

Punt (gridiron football) Drop kick downfield to the opposing team in American football

In gridiron football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.

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