Breaking The Plane

Which indicates that the important detail is where his first foot touches down. Why then is the same thinking not applied to TDs?


The ball broke the plane, yes, but a touchdown is not scored until legal possession is then secured with the ball in the endzone. In a running play the ball crosses the plane in that possession, thus touchdown immediately.

Exactly, so breaking the plane is useless and only makes it easier to score. If you forced TD’s to have possession in the end zone, then different plays and strategies would be put in play. I don’t think scoring would suffer much.

A player must have possession of the ball AND the ball must break the plane … the player need not be in the endzone.

And personally I think that’s a BS rule. Breaking the plane is not possession in the end zone which equates to a touchdown.

OK … entitled to your opinion … but the written rule is pretty consistent across “North American” football.

I’d much rather the rule for TDs be consistent with the other in bounds/out of bounds rules. I have no problem whatsoever with the Canadian game differing in some aspects from the American game.

It is definitely about consistency.

So … last play of the game … if a player catches the ball and his feet are a foot outside the endzone but he reaches out across the goal-line no TD but a catch with his feet an inch inside the endzone but the ball never crossing the goal-line that is a TD?

No, that should not be a TD. Like I said previously, I hate that reaching stuff. I’ve always found it bizarre. I think players should have to get into the end zone to score a TD.

Yes, absolutely! That should be a TD the same way a pass is determined to be caught in bounds by the position of a receiver’s feet. I’ve already made that perfectly clear. Why would you even need to ask?

Last play, first play, logically why should that make any difference? Like I say, internal consistency when it comes to the rules of the game is a virtue.


How would your need for consistency reconcile the fact that the rules of forward progress would be different on the goal line than everywhere else on the field?

Respectfully disagree … a ball that does not enter the endzone should not be a touchdown (as is now the case) … I do not see any inconsistency.

BTW - “Last play” was just to specify a situation where the team not scoring despite getting the ball into the endzone would have no further chances … not because it makes any difference in how a rule should apply

They’re treated differently because they are different. Feet in bounds is about possession, breaking the plane is about position.

The ball is spotted at the point where it was located while in possession of a player. If that position is ever across the plane of the goal line, then a touchdown has been scored and the play is over.

Landing with your feet out of bounds means that you never had possession of the football. Where the ball is in this instance is irrelevant.

Here’s a situation that confused me for a long time: a player is standing just inside the goal line and jumps to catch the ball, and catches it in the air within the goal area, but is bumped or carried by his own momentum so that he lands with the ball outside the end zone. If first contact with the ground is out of bounds, or if on contact with the ground he loses control of the ball, the pass is incomplete. If he lands in bounds and maintains control of the ball, it is a completion, and a touchdown, since the point of his furthest forward progress – in this case, where he caught the ball – is across the goal line.

How would they be different? I certainly don’t think they should be different. If a player’s forward progress is arrested while the player is still standing, the ball should be scrimmaged from wherever his forward foot was at the time (which is what the refs do right now anyway).


This is clearly not the case. Feet in bounds is a measure to determine the position of the ball when caught. The position of the player’s feet is used as the determinant of the position of the ball, whether in bounds or out of bounds.

Once again, the CFL is clearly using the position of the receiver’s feet to determine the position of the ball. I’d like the CFL to be completely consistent in this regard.

With respect to TDs, the intent of those who originally designed the game was that a TD would be scored by running the ball (or falling with the ball) into the end zone. The game was very simply all about running the ball into the end zone. (After all the game evolved from rugby.) The possibility of stretching one’s arms into the end zone while standing outside the end zone probably never even occurred to those who initially designed the rule for TDs and I’m sure that they would have ruled this to be an abuse of the rules since it contravened the spirit of the game (running the ball into the end zone).

And that’s why I too hate this stretching the ball across the goal line business. It contravenes the spirit of the game. That was clearly not the intent of those who designed the game.

When a player is tackled, the position of the ball is fairly obvious. But while still standing, for purposes of determining furthest advance the position of the players’ feet should be the determinant.


A player in possession of the ball reaches out as he is being tackled … forward progress is where the ball was when he was deemed down (most commonly knee toughing ground) … same play at the goal-line … your preference would mean a knee going down one foot from the goal-line when the ball had already “broken the plane” and is then well past the goal-line would be marked on the one yard-line (no “foot” placements in the CFL) and no touchdown scored … very different results.

Yes, very different results indeed. I just think TDs should be scored according to the original spirit of the rules, i.e. by entering the end zone while in possession of the ball. That’s the way the game was originally designed.

That has been my thought exactly, he’s in the 3 dimensional space of the end zone with possession, but lands out, no TD. You reach across and it’s a TD?

The game was also originally designed prohibiting forward passes. To return to the original spirit of the rules regarding scoring, forward passing would also have to be removed from the game. I’m not so sure returning the game to it’s original design is a reasonable argument for an unnecessary rule change.

You’re ignoring the fact that legal possession must be gained before the play can be deemed a touchdown, and it’s not a legal possession until the pass receiver first touches the ground with one foot in bounds before stepping out of bounds.

A ball carrier entering the ball into the endzone for a touchdown brings it from a legal possession position from the field of play.

The ball breaking the plane is only the first part of scoring a TD. The second part is legal possession must occur. When rushing the ball into the endzone, scoring is instant. When passing, it’s not scored until the rules of legal possession are satisfied, after the catch attempt.