CFL evaluators are going Global once again and they’ve got at least one destination locked into their calendars.
On Friday, the Japanese X-League revealed plans for a 2022 CFL Global Combine on March 6 outside of Tokyo. While the Japanese event is expected to be one of many held around the world, it is the first to publicly announce a date.
The event is open to current X-League players and graduating Japanese college athletes, with the top performers expected to be invited to the CFL National Combine in Toronto later that month.
Since 2019, CFL teams have been required to carry one Global player on their active roster. That number was set to grow to two in 2020, but was kept stable due to the pandemic.
In 2020, then-CFL director of global scouting Greg Quick and a small contingent of CFL officials executed a world tour, holding combines in Finland, Sweden, France, Italy, England, Germany, Japan, Denmark and Brazil. However, pandemic restrictions stopped the tour ahead of its final stop in Mexico, causing the cancellation of the National Combine, the postponement of the Global Draft and eventually the cancellation of the CFL season.
Scouting operations turned virtual ahead of the 2021 Global Draft, but a handful of nations opted to hold their own in-person combines without CFL officials present, including Mexico, Italy, Finland, and Japan.
With the exception of the influx of Australian punters, Japan was the most well-represented nation in the Global Draft with six players selected. All but one, Winnipeg practice roster offensive lineman Tomoya Machino, saw playing time last season.
Fellow Bomber Les Maruo made six special teams tackles in seven games played at linbacker, while Montreal running back Taku Lee recorded two kick returns for 48 yards and had two special teams tackles in four contests. Montreal linebacker Akio Yamagishi and Toronto kicker Toshiki Sato each dressed for one game.
Former B.C. Lions’ kicker Takeru Yamasaki became the first Japanese player to score in a CFL game. He was later released after two games due to a 50 percent conversion rate.
The CFL has yet to hire a new director of Global scouting since the resignation of Greg Quick to become an assistant coach with the Alouettes last season, but has indicated a desire to return to in-person combines, pandemic restrictions allowing.
The league has not yet responded to inquiries about whether the scheduled Japanese combine will be administered by CFL officials or follow the Japanese-only format from 2021.