CFL approves rule changes: illegal contact no longer reviewable

The CFL Board of Governors has approved a number of rule changes for the 2018 season, including the elimination of coaches’ challenges for illegal contact on a receiver.

The rules committee made a number of recommendations in March, all of which have been adopted by the league. The other changes include:

• it is now illegal for any player to deliver a forcible block on an opponent while moving back towards his own goal line, sometimes referred to as “blindside” blocks.

• outlawed low blocks that occur outside of the “tackle box”, an area that extends from tight end to tight end and from the quarterback or kicker to two yards beyond the line of scrimmage

• widened the definition of spearing 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.

• eliminated a loophole in the “sleeper” play rule 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.

• simplified the rule on what constitutes a quarterback making a legal pass behind the line of scrimmage by defining it 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.

• eliminated the “force out” rule by requiring a receiver catching a ball to place at least one foot inbounds regardless of whether he was contacted in mid-air.

• increased the penalty for “pyramiding” – the practice of using another player to elevate one’s self in an effort to block a kick — from five yards to ten yards to deter the behaviour.

Last August, the CFL made changes to the video review policy, reducing the number of challenges available to coaches. One of the motivating factors was coaches “fishing” for illegal contact away from the play in hopes of gaining an advantage.