Ideal Hybrid US/Canadian rules *FUN* discussion


I know that most people around here are VERY possessive of the CFL and all its quirks, and I’ve been a devoted fan for roughly 40 years and across three CFL cities. But, there isn’t much going on in the league right now, and as I watch NFL/NCAA football instead, I find myself often thinking of the best and worst parts of each variant as a fan.

So, looking at the major differences, here is my ideal combination. If anyone else thinks about this stuff too, I’d be curious to see what you all think. If you choose to respond, no fence straddling! You have to pick one or the other.

Field size – American. The smaller field seems to make things happen faster, and allows less room for error. If nothing else, I prefer the smaller American endzones. Touchdowns are supposed to be difficult.

Play clock – Canadian. Although it was fun to watch Peyton Manning change the entire world before the play started, the American play clock seems to take forever, especially toward the game’s end.

Kicking rules – American*. Fair catches are lazy and dull, but no-yards penalties are far too common and too reliant on random bounces that leave a defender in a “bad luck” position that’s impossible for him to resolve in time. A rule that has a luck component is goofy, and it’s also impossible to accurately police in real time. To pick just one, I’d pick American, but it’s a tough decision.

The rouge – American*. Why are kickers rewarded with a point for missing field goals in Canada? You miss, you get nothing. I do like the single point for punts and kickoffs, though, because it can add a significant strategic component. If I had to pick just one, I’d pick American, because there should be no way to win a game by missing a kick.

Downs – Canadian. Four downs allow for lazy first and even second down play calling. There’s rarely any sense of urgency on American first downs, which makes the Canadian version much more fun to play and watch.

One yard neutral zone – American. I’m tired of seeing goal-line stands ruined because a defensive player was two inches less than a yard away. The same thing can happen under American rules, but I’m not a fan of anything that requires the player to perform measurements in the heat of battle (see: no yards). Plus, I suspect that linemen suffer from a higher concussion risk under Canadian rules, because there is more momentum involved.

Catch rules – Canadian. I like the idea of one receiver’s toe winning the Grey Cup. Two feet down requires more skill and body control, but it’s less entertaining as a fan.

Game timing – Canadian. Nothing worse than 1:00 left and the game is practically over. Canadian rules in a landslide.

Timeouts – Canadian. Timeouts are for emergencies in Canadian ball and for strategy in American. Three time outs per half are too many, but one is too few. So, I guess I’d like to see two per half so that there’s some strategy involved. To pick just one, I choose Canadian because anything that keeps the game rolling is good.

Video reviews – American. Reviews should cover obvious, objective things. Was he in bounds? Yes or no. Was his knee down before the fumble? Yes or no. There are callable penalties on every play, and I don’t like the fact that a game (or season) can change because a defender’s hand brushed the quarterback’s helmet to an extent that was only visible in super slow mo.

Goal post location – American. The posts get in the way of Canadian football too often, and not in an exciting way. And, I have a constant feeling that someone is going to get really hurt one of these days with an immovable object right in the middle of the play area. Plus, it makes field goals harder. I suspect that the CFL will eventually move them to the back, perhaps after something goes really wrong.

Offensive motion – Canadian*. I like the unlimited vertical motion, but with an asterisk. I’d like to see the rule changed to call offside if any part of the player passes the scrimmage plane before the snap. Too often, receivers are running at full speed and are at least a yard offside in the air, but aren’t called because there’s no foot down. But, no fence straddling! So, I pick Canadian.

Field Size: Canadian. Ideally, I’d like to see a 100-yard field with Canadian width and endzones. That extra width (and endzone depth) allows for more room for offences to put together creative, athletic plays. But I wouldn’t mind cutting out the middle ten yards on a Canadian field.

Play Clock: Canadian. I wouldn’t mind having our clock start earlier though.

Kicking rules: Canadian. I like to watch returners run, not stand.

Rouge: Canadian. I would hate to see defenses rewarding for failing to protect their endzones.

Downs: Canadian. More urgency and risk in play calling. More special teams plays.

Neutral zone: American. Especially for goal line stands, but not sure how much difference it would make.

Catch rules: Canadian.

Game timing: Canadian. But sometimes I feel that 3-minute warnings are too long. I’m also starting to think that the 3-minute warning could be saved only for the second half.

Timeouts: Canadian

Video review: American

Goal posts: Canadian. I prefer to have a consistent goal line, not one for TDs, rouges, and safeties and a separate one for FGs. Though collisions can be an issue, so hopefully they’ll come up with retractable posts at some point.

Motion: Canadian.

Overtime: Canadian. Though I’d still prefer to go back to having two 5-minute halves so we don’t suddenly exclude special teams from the OT format.

Endzone INTs: OK, so both leagues have the same or pretty close to the same rules, but if I were starting a league from scratch I would make an INT downed in the endzone a scoring play, like a safety or rouge.

The one yard off of the ball interests me. I would only want it changed if it were found to cause more player impact.

I would also like the field size changed. I am not a fan of the 55 yard line. Plus moving the field size to 100 X 60 with 15 yard end zones fixes Toronto and Montreal.

Moving the goal posts I don’t know. They are there because of the goal line. Ball goes over the goal line and it is a score. there were games where the post was in the way, but it did add interest.

Remove timeouts and challenges in the first half, maybe no 3 minute clock in the first half. We maybe able to get the game to 2.5 hours and the game won’t look any different, don’t know if TV has a problem with it

You guys need to include a preference for 12 players vs 11.

(I can’t really contribute because I like all of the Cdn rules better, other than the overtime format)

Good point. I guess I prefer 12 players since I prefer a large field. But with a narrower field, 11 makes sense.

XFL is evaluating these type ofrules variations and plan a trial run by using the Spring League as a test platform.

They are considering:

-100 yard field size (obviously)
-30 second clock
-5 yard halo on punt returns
-No rouge
-4 downs
-11 on 11
-One yard Neutral Zone
-Running Clock before the last 2 minutes.
-Unlimited forward passes behind Line of Scrimmage.
-Tiered extra point from scrimmage. No kicking of extra points allowed.
-Having all players except the kicker and returner on kickoffs line up 5 yards from each other.
-2 point stand for all lineman except the center.
-Original XFL allowed 1 receiver going forward before the snap. Nothing about motion has been mentioned in the revival.

100% Canadian. I might concede the video review rules, but that’s about it. Yes, I’d keep the rouge. Ideally, I’d amend that rule though, so that the point is only awarded if the ball lands inbounds before going out, or is touched by the defending team before going out, or the player that receives it takes a knee to concede, or is tackled in the end zone. If the ball sails over everyone’sreach and is therefore unplayable, no point scored. That ought to shut the “rewarding failure” folks up, and add more skill and strategy to the play.

I’m not sure what the American rule on throwing the ball away to prevent a sack is but ours sure needs to change. What an embarrassment sometimes . Also put in a rule for fake roughing calls, call it the soccer rule.

I am 99% in fav of CFL rules.

some exceptions

really hate CFL overtime.

would prefer no 1 yard zone. kinda makes it 9 yards and a gimme. also, when they get the ball to a football length of the endzone, it shouldn’t go back to the 1 yard line.

don’t like the latest (cant remember when they did it) change to punting to penalize if the ball goes out between the 20s. bad enough to shank the ball short without having penalty yardage tacked on.

I would like to see the endzones standardized to 20 yards with the goal posts moved to the back of the endzone.

as others and myself have said many times, no single if the ball does not touch the ground or a receiving team player before going through the endzone.


keep the large field.

keep the no yards penalties. way more holding and illegal blocks on runbacks than no yards, specially the major. maybe they should do away with blocking on punt returns. wish they would find some solution.

endzone ints - I would not like to see a team be penalized for making an intin the endzone. I might suggest that if they choose to try to run it out, then after about 5 steps they give up 2 if caught behind the line. if they go down right away, or take just a couple of steps thinking about it then give up, no points awarded. if in any circumstance 2 was to cost the intercepting team 2 points, does that mean they have to kickoff and give the ball right back. that would be quite the penalty for failure to just knock the ball down.

one of the things I most dislike is touchbacks on kickoffs. CFL addressed it by moving the kickoffs back. NFL should do the same.

My issue with endzone INTs being scrimmaged 25(?) yards out with no penalty to the defense is that an INT on the 1-yard line scrimmages from the 1-yard line even though the defense in that case successfully defended its endzone.

So in this case, downing the ball in your own endzone is a better play than stopping the ball from entering your endzone. Seems inconsistent to me, though it’s not a particularly common play.

I’d be fine with a single point being awarded to the offense for making the defense down the ball in it’s own endzone. Or, at least make the INT team scrimmage from the 1-yard line instead of giving them 25 free yards. Or, let them choose between surrendering a single and scrimmaging from the 25 or not surrendering a single and scrimmaging from the 1.

I am with you on the uprights. I grew up on American football and having them in the back makes no sense. Same reason singles need to exist…you put the ball past the scoring plane and the play ends with it there then it needs to award points. That’s why it is called the scoring plane…or whatever term one chooses

I could only see the CFL going to 11 players if they needed to save money. 11 players maybe equals 4 less players per team including whats on the Practice roster.

I like this idea.

I could live with that, but I would rather they just automatically scrimmage from the 5 or 10 every time, no points

I really like gridiron football but feel like as the game has evolved, band aid rules have become the game. What I mean is the game has become inconsistent and unnecessarily complicated. Case in point is illegal kicks out of bounds. A kickoff cannot bounce or fly out of bounds via the sidelines, a punt may not fly out of bounds further than 20 yards from the opponent’s goal and a place kick from scrimmage can go out of bounds no problem. Why can’t that all be covered by one uniform and easy to understand rule?

With that in mind:

Field size – The field of play in most codes of football (soccer, rugby, Gaelic, Canadian) is roughly the same size with similar origins. Modern athletes benefit from the room to play so I’ll go with the Canadian dimensions though small variations shouldn’t be too much of an issue as we already have with Canadian fields across the country.

Play clock – Ideally the pace should be a bit faster than in American football.

American play clocks are consistent in that they run from the end of the previous play, whereas in Canada play clocks run from when the ball and sticks are reset and the referee blows it in. The Canadian method can be somewhat arbitrary and lead to varying time wasted between plays (30 to 40 seconds) outside the control of the competing teams.

American football also has same timing rules on either side of the warning, whereas in Canada the rules tighten up to where the game clock does not run until the play clock is blown in. So Canadian football allows arbitrary time to be wasted for the 54 minutes not played under both 3 minute warnings and stricter timing otherwise, whereas American football times consistently throughout but affording 40 seconds per play making it easy to run down the clock.

I would go with American timing but a 30 second play clock and the Canadian convention of time having to expire with a live ball. So if the clock runs to 00:00 between plays, one more go.

Kicking rules – Canadian.

American football has evolved to put more and more focus on the skill players during normal scrimmage in so doing nearly writing kicking out of their “foot” ball.

Live balls crossing the goal line, the general premise of the rogue, the absence of the fair catch and legal kicks from any point on scrimmage liven up the game and make it about more than just the quarterback and ball carriers.

The rouge– I would just modify it to only count for kicks which can be returned. A field goal attempt sailing wide and over the end zone should count for nil. As should a punt doing the same.

Downs – Canadian. Force the issue. Makes each play more important. Moves the action quickly up and down the field.

One yard neutral zone – Does anyone know the origin of the 1 yard neutral zone?

For game consistency I’d prefer the American neutral zone corresponding to the length of the ball. I don’t like how getting to the 1 foot line results in scrimmage from the 1 yard line. Likewise why then does an offense scrimmaging from their own end get the full one yard line even when the previous play ends nearer to the goal line?

Not sure which is better for player safety but that is also a consideration.

Catch rules – Again a matter of consistency and simplicity with other elements of the game. For example a ball carrier is considered in bounds with a live ball until some part of their body touches something out of bounds. Why then does a catch in the NFL require 2 feet? That’s an arbitrary additional requirement and I’m not sure of its origin. 1 foot is enough for me and jives with the majority of versions of gridiron football as well as the rest of rulings with respect to “in-bounds” in the NFL.

Game timing – See play clock above. In general I’d like the pace to be faster than the NFL with the clock hard to run out but I’d like game timing to be fair and consistent from the opening whistle to the final gun unlike the CFL.

Timeouts – A fair method that doesn’t stop the game too much. Maybe 2 timeouts per half?

Video reviews – Agree with the OP. For black and white calls only. If anyone has watched high profile rugby they do reviews quite seamlessly. The referee makes a box signal with his hands and is handed a video official ruling on his earpiece in seconds. If tennis and rugby can be quick about it I don’t see why football can’t be the same if of course we limit reviewable plays to objective yes/no events.

Goal post location – American football is the only code of football where the goal is not on the goal line. Keep the goal post assembly on the goal line where it belongs. To move it is in keeping with the philosophy of American football which is to restrict the glory to the heroes of scrimmage. The goal posts are an obstruction for them yes but they were historically the original sole “goal” of the game… They deserve their place on the goal line.

Offensive motion – In the interest of liberty and simplicity, Canadian rules are best. 5 ineligible down lineman is as restrictive as I would get. I would go as far as to even get the 2 eligible recievers off the LOS and let them move unrestricted as well.

That was fun. Keen to hear other thoughts.

What about when a defense gets the INT on their own 1-yard line? Would you have them scrimmage from there, or give them the same benefit that a defense who gets the INT behind their goal line?

I realize that what I want would extent the time of the games but I don’t like the clock running when nothing is happening. I don’t like there being a difference between running places and passing plays and tackled in bounds or out. I would like the clock to be stopped between whistles of every play regardless. I want to see as close to a full 60 minutes of actual action as possible.

good question. Maybe best to just always scrimmage at the 1 on end zone ints that are not run out.

Agree FYB but is this even possible in gridiron in NA as it’s now played? I don’t think so. It would be a huge change of rules.

One thing I’d like to see is a combination of the punting rules. I don’t like the no yards, it seems pointless when players have to back peddle away from a ball slowly rolling, I’d like to replace that with the NFL style, but with the option of it being a live ball for the kicking team.
Punters are athletes nowadays and I think it would add an extra strategy and excitement to the game without the bogus time wasting on the 5 yard no yards penalty.