Bombers, Riders discussing joint practices during 2021 CFL training camp

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders are discussing the idea of joint practices during training camp to prepare for the 2021 CFL season.

Regina is just over a six-hour drive from the Manitoba capital as current public health conditions would make it easier to operate the sessions in Saskatchewan. Later in July would be an ideal timeline after both teams have had enough of their own practices to feel comfortable competing against another team.

“We are definitely exploring the opportunity of potentially having a controlled scrimmage or a controlled practice with another team, I don’t think it’s hard to figure out which team it would be. It will not be the Rams or the Thunder,” O’Day said during a video conference.

“We are exploring that right now to see if there is a potential for that to happen, it’d be great from an evaluation standpoint to be able to see our guys competing against another team. That’s all happening pretty fast.”

Training camps are scheduled to begin on July 10 across the league and each team will be allowed to have 100 players at camp. Winnipeg will hold their training camp at IG Field and the Riders plan to do the same at Mosaic Stadium. CFL teams won’t play pre-season games prior to kicking off the regular season August 5.

“Just from experience, being in training camp for a long period of time only playing against your own teammates, it starts to wear on you and you’re actually excited for pre-season games,” O’Day said.

“I don’t want to undervalue the pre-season games by any means. In a lot of cases your starters are going to play two maybe three quarters of football in the whole pre-season. It’s just nice for them to get back out and go through the routine of having a game before it starts.”

Saskatchewan’s prairie rival visits Mosaic Stadium for the Labour Day classic on Sunday, September 5 with the Banjo Bowl slated for Saturday, September 11 in Winnipeg. The Bombers open the entire schedule hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats while the Riders play one day later, Friday, August 6 at home versus the B.C. Lions.

“We’re all under the same rules, there is no advantage. All of us are not going to have pre-season games. We will have to adjust some of our practices in training camp to simulate a game day,” O’Day said.

“Usually we have dress rehearsals for the pre-season games, and then we have pre-season games, and then we’re ready to go for the season. Now we don’t have pre-season games, so we’re going to have to simulate even just the day of the game, the difference from practice and a game day.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.