CFL board of governors approves replay expansion

The CFL’s board of governors voted Thursday to expand video review for the upcoming season.

It’s one of 10 rule changes proposed by the CFL’s rules committee that the league’s board of governors adopted. The board decided further analysis was needed regarding how far downfield offensive linemen could block on a pass play and the recommendation will be reconsidered next year.

The CFL will add a video official in the command centre to address obvious errors not covered by replay challenges. One example would be when both the offence and defence jump into the neutral zone before the snap, the replay official could examine the play and communicate to the referee which team jumped first.

According to the CFL, the video official would be a first in North American pro sports.

Two years after allowing CFL coaches to challenge defensive pass interference, the league has deemed offensive pass interference, illegal contact and illegal interference on pass plays as reviewable offences.

Penalties reviewable by a coach’s challenge will also include no yards, called illegal blocks on kick plays, roughing the passer or kicker and illegal interference at the point of reception on kickoff attempts.

“Expanding what can be reviewed will not result in a slower game because coaches are not being provided with additional reviews per game,” Glen Johnson, the CFL’s senior vice-president, football, said in a statement. “In fact, we’re looking to reduce the number delays and the number of penalties, while improving the quality of the game and protecting the health of our players.”

Unsuccessful two-point converts will be automatically reviewed by the replay official.

League governors also voted to disallow players from pushing blockers through gaps in the offensive line on one-point converts and field-goal tries. The CFL also expanded the definition of a “peel-back” block.

It’s now illegal for an offensive player to block an opponent low anywhere on the field when he’s moving towards his goal goal-line rather than those starting the play in the tackle box.

The CFL also modified what constitutes illegal procedure. Line players can now move slightly, point, or make signals for blocking assignments while in a three-point stance prior to the snap.

Other adopted changes include:

• Off-setting penalties would be created for scenarios, such as when the defence is offside and the offence commits holding on the offside player. That will result in no yardage difference being applied and replay of the down.

• Teams allowing a field goal in the last three minutes of a game will no longer have the choice of scrimmaging the ball instead of receiving a kickoff.

• Players giving an opponent’s offensive ball to a fan after a turnover will no longer be flagged for objectionable conduct.