Concerned that key information is making its way to their opponents, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are closing one practice a week, effective immediately.
Riders head coach Chris Jones made the announcement on Tuesday while also alleging the Hamilton Tiger-Cats had inside information when the two teams played on July 8, highlighting a particular special teams play.
“As soon as they walked out on the field they identified it in five seconds so you know somebody had to be here watching practice and told them, ‘hey if they’re doing this, it’s a punt block.’ We’re not going to allow that to happen,” Jones said. “So we’re going to close practice and if we do have anything, we’ll work on it on the day that’s closed and that way nobody gets the upper hand on us.”
The move comes after Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson, whose team hosts Saskatchewan on Saturday decided to close a practice after alluding to “green spies.”
Jones denied the Riders are involved in nefarious scouting activities at other team’s practices.
“We don’t. I don’t know how other teams do but we don’t, “he said. “In today’s day and age with all the people that can put stuff out there, whether it’s somebody that they send or it’s just a fan that’s putting it out on the internet.”
CFL rules allow teams to close one practice a week but teams rarely take advantage, choosing instead to allow fans to observe the on-field sessions. Jones said he understands why practices are open, then took a shot at the Toronto Argonauts.
“This is a fan-based league and we have to average 25,000 fans in order to break even. We’ve got to have fans and I think it’s important,” he said. “We had more fans in the stands today than Toronto has at their games sometimes.”