CFL imports from other countries besides USA?

I’m curious to know whether or not any import players have come to the CFL via systems other than the NCAA or the Canadian system. I know there’s a handful of players who weren’t born in Canada or the US that play in the CFL, but as far as I can tell they either come from NCAA schools, CIS schools, or sometimes CJFL/QJFL.

What about the gridiron football systems of other countries? According to this article Japan has over 100 schools playing American football (similar number per capita to the number of schools in Canada with a football program), and there are around 60 countries in the International Federation of American Football. Have any of these other countries produced non-imports for the CFL? I would guess no, since there is so much talent coming out of the American system that it’s probably not worth the effort to look elsewhere.

Aside from increasing the pool of talent from which to choose, it could help, if only just a little, to popularize our game a little more internationally if the CFL picked up a few players from these other systems (not at the expense of talent, mind you). Maybe someday, the Vaahteraliiga will be playing by Canadian rules and the fact that their championship trophy comes from Canada will make a little more sense (it’s unlikely, I know).

I forget the details of who when and how, but I am sure I remember at least one player who was non canadian, but not considered an import because he had not played ball at a certan level in the states, if at all ????

I can't remember if it was cfl or nfl that once had an aussie kicker. If it was cfl, I beleive he was classed as non import.

great question. not many i don't imagine, as not many other places play North American style football.

I do know that there have been several Flag Football players get noticed. Granted, many have College / Uni experience. The Riders had one that comes to mind. I believe it was Willis Jacox, who was seen in a flag game and approached, eventually playing a few seasons.

I do know that there have been some rugby and soccer players who have played NFL / CFL, but I could not come up with names. I think the thing is size. Japan players would, sorry to stereotype, be typically too small for the NFL (who also already have a plethora to draft from), and the inherent costs of setting up overseas scouting may not be viable for the CFL at this time.

Interesting though!

Are you thinking of Darren Bennett who was a Pro Bowl punter for San Diego and Minnesota. He was from Sydney.

I can’t find anything about an Australian in the CFL but if there was he wouldn’t be considered an NI. Residency has been part of the definition of an NI for a long time so if he didn’t live in Canada for at least part of his early life then he wouldn’t have been an NI.

I believe you may be thinking of WR Willie Hinchcliff who briefly played up here in the early '90s. He was a world-class sprinter from New Zealand who could get behind coverage, but unfortunately, couldn't catch a cold. IIRC, he was considered a "non-import" by virtue of the fact he hadn't received his football training in the USA.

Non-import status has nothing to do with being Canadian or not being trained in the US, it's supposed to do with having played High School or University ball in Canada (so many Canadians who played Canadian ball in HS and then went down to the NCAA in the US to play College ball, are drafted as non-imports). Ben Cahoon was a non-import even though he was an American (born in Utah) because he spent some time in southern Alberta in his youth (and would assume he played some Canadian HS football during this time or he would never have been a non-import). Unfortunately the media tends to refer to non-imports as Canadians, regardless of actual nationality (though most are Canucks, but not all).
There was an Englishman by the name of Mark Pearce drafted by Calgary in '93 as a non-import (not because he wasn't American) because he played one year (the only year of the existence of the football program) of college ball at Cape Breton University College. (he also played a couple of years in the WLAF before being drafted, but that had nothing to do with him being a non-import).

Actually you do not have to have played any football in Canada as long as you lived for 7 years in Canada prior to being 15. At least that is what it says on this site under fanzone: Import Ratio

I found a definition of a Non-Import from 1989.

Non-Import : A player who has spent a total of seventeen of his first twenty-one years in Canada, or who has never played football outside of Canada.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a player 1987-91 named Ken WIney. Winey was American born and raised and attended Southern University. He was considered a Non-Import because he never played football down south. He was a track star who was recruited by the Bombers as a WR/KR. Winey also played 1992 with Edmonton and 1993 with Toronto.

That definition of a non-import hasn't been used since the mid to late 1990s.

That's not the complete definition. It was expanded in the new CBA but, for some reason, hasn't updated their website to include the new wording. The entire definition should read:

A player who was physically resident in Canada for an aggregate period of seven years prior to attaining the age of fifteen years or is a Canadian citizen and was physically resident in Canada for an aggregate period of five (5) years prior to the age of 18 years qualifies as a non-import player.

Thanks Stats_Man for supplying that older definition. It's interesting how the definition changed.

Didn't realise they changed the definition to be where a player lived during his teen years. I kind of prefer the old definition as it focused on playing Canadian football, not where you lived.
Oh well, I guess that's why they always call non-imports Canadian, as nationality seems to be the only requirement.

Nope, do not have to be Canadian to meet the 7 year under 15 part.

And being born in Canada but living most of your life in the US won't make you an NI either. It isn't citizenship but residency that's the criteria.

And citizenship and/or nationality aren't requirements for non-import status because of past legal rulings that forbids discrimination for employment based upon those sorts of criteria, whereas legal residency and place of training were deemed as lawful discriminators.

There was a past article on the import/non-import ration history here:

[url=] ... -the-ratio[/url]

In the old days, the rule for who was an import was where they first played organized football (if US then import, in Canada, even as an adult who was born elsewhere, then non-import). There was a proposed rule change in the mid-80s to say that if a player had NOT played organized football five years previous to his signing with a CFL club, he could qualify as a non-import, but I'm not sure if it was adopted or not. I know in the 90s, they tried to pass a rule that counted time in the league towards a status shift (an import player who played in the CFL for a certain length of UNINTERRUPTED time could be considered a non-import), but the US expansion teams, for whom that was proposed to get around legal issues, didn't last long enough. I'm not sure if there have been any further changes.

Amazon women make good linemen.

Since I originally started this thread, I found out that Aussies could count as non-imports (and that I didn't know all there is to know about the definition of an import). Also I just found this in one of the blogs from The Province,

This is pretty much a guess, but we’re thinking that when CFL teams were approached with the idea of sending a representative to the beaches of Cancun for a two-day scouting combine with expenses paid there probably wasn’t a lot of resistance from the scouting department.

Not surprisingly, CFL player agent Mark Maren says he will have a representative from all eight teams in Mexico starting Tuesday for what surely will be the first combine of its kind.

Maren, who negotiated on behalf of the Lions’ Jon Hameister-Ries, last year moved from Toronto to the Mayan Riviera, so the idea isn’t completely far-fetched and no, they actually aren’t holding workouts on the beach.

But he has 70 players who will take part, hoping one or two not invited to the league’s March evaluation camp in Toronto will be signed or slapped on a negotiation list by far-sighted CFL teams willing to look beyond their own border.

“This is not designed to make me any money,? said Maren, who claims football interest in the Yucatan exceeds that of soccer due to the U.S. influence in the region. “I’m doing it not for Canadian kids but everybody. I’m hoping it will morph into a yearly thing.?

Representing the Lions and running the camp is none other than Dave Ritchie, who last year stayed in the game by taking a head coaching job in Zurich, and Richard Wade, who did some work for the club at training camp last year. The Lions finalized their list of free agent tryout venues this week, making one switch from last year by dumping a camp in Portland for one in Seattle, and say anyone making the grade in Mexico would be asked to attend a U.S. camp before being signed.

But if the next Primo Villaneuva (Lions 1955-58 if you don’t know) is signed, you’ll know how it came to pass.

[url=] ... in-mexico/[/url]

There actually is or was a Italian football league (IFL), they played some type of North American football. The great Gill The Thrill Fenerty came to the CFL by way of the IFL. Yes I know he originally came out of the American College system etc, but came to the CFL straight from the IFL.

Just something to ponder