Our game: IFAF approves Canadian rules for international competitions

Photo courtesy: Football Canada

The International Federation of American Football (IFAF), the international body responsible for gridiron football, has approved Canadian football rules in international competitions, it was announced on Monday.

“We are thrilled that IFAF recognizes 12-player football supporting the current international tackle rules,” said Football Canada president and IFAF general secretary Jim Mullin in a statement.

“As Football Canada continues to work with IFAF, I believe this opens the door for international friendlies and tournaments to be staged in Canada employing the infrastructure communities have invested in for our sport from coast to coast.”

The Canadian amateur football rule book can now be used for international competitions sanctioned by IFAF. It will not replace the IFAF rule book, nor will it be a path for continental or World Championship qualification.

“The Canadian development model of the sport is an example for all nations within the IFAF to learn best practices,” said IFAF president Pierre Trochet. “This is another step to take advantage of the culture and expertise in one of our leading football nations to grow our sport worldwide and provide more competition opportunities.”

The Canadian ruleset will now be available to all nations through various IFAF platforms. It features 12 players per side, three downs, the waggle, the rouge, a five-yard halo on punt returns, fields 110 yards long and 65 yards wide, goal posts on the goal line, and 20-yard end zones. A rule variant allows for four downs to be used if desired.

Javier L’Episcopo, the IFAF Americas chairperson, views this as a chance to build stronger regional links and events.

“We are pleased that this opens the opportunity to play more international and university club games in quality facilities across Canada” said L’Episcopo. “More competition can grow the sport throughout the continent.”

The first documented football game was played on Nov. 9, 1861 at the University of Toronto’s University College. The Canadian football rulebook has existed in some capacity since the 1880s.

In 1903, the Burnside rules transformed Canadian football from a rugby-style game to the gridiron-style game it has evolved into today. Hec Crighton, an official and member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, drafted and edited the first Canadian amateur rulebook for use by Canadian universities in 1965. Football Canada has since been responsible for its development.

“As a proud Canadian, I can’t wait for us to invite the world to play our great game,” said Mullin. “This is a great day for international and Canadian football.”