Ratio question

I've been watching CFL football for many years and never really thought about the ratio issues until this year. Correct me if I am wrong. The rules state that you must have at least 7 Canadian (non-import) starters. Who keeps track of that during the game. With the offense and defense entering and leaving the game so many times during the game, someone must have to keep track of the fact that the team has suddenly put an American at slot back in place of a Canadian and not put a Canadian in somewhere else, either on defense or offense. Who is the person who must notice these things?

The head linesman has the responsibility to "check the sideline for substitutions and ensure that only approved substitution procedures are used." I take from this that this official manages the import count. As for how this is done, I assume that he watches for any of the three designated imports, and if they enter the game, he makes sure one of the starting imports comes off. I don't think there's anything on the jersey to indicate who's an import and who's not, so I'm guessing that he just has to memorize the list - or maybe he has a list in his pocket?

I stil don't understand why the cats insist on using 8 non imports in the starting lineup insted of the required 7

Usually the use :

2 Receivers - ( SB FANTUZ, WR GIGUERE )

So Dyakowski goes down and they decide to repalce a non import guard with an import tackle ( they shoudl have decent enough backup non import guards )

so they feel they have to use non import Eddie Steels at DT to replace import T.DAVIS ..

Why not just go with 7 non imports and put import J Smith at Eddie Steels spot .
this dline doe snot need a liabilty ..no offnce to Eddie Steele he is ok and learning but not now ..we need pass rush and run defence supreme ..this might allow them to now double team PEGUESSE and thus impact our pass rush in a big way

The Cats don't start eight non-imports. They did once this season, I believe it was against Winnipeg, but they usually just start seven. Recently, the starters on three o-linemen (Hage/O'Neill at centre, Dyakowski at guard and O'Neill/Husband at guard), three receivers (Fantuz, Giguere and Stala) and one defensive back (Bucknor). Sometimes it has been two receivers and two defensive backs (Stala out and Hinds in), but the team has not been using eight starting non-imports.

And using more non-imports than required is not a bad thing. Montreal used more than seven for many years (they had six starters just on offense with an all-Canadian o-line and Ben Cahoon at receiver) and we have saw how successful they were. If the players are good enough, and you have the depth, you might as well use them.

Totally agree. The only way I would consider supporting this is if Walker is the "undesignated import", i.e. the 16th import who isn't a starter. That would allow him to enter the game without restriction, allowing him to be on the field with Cobourne without having to replace one of the starting imports. But is that really worth the risk given the very few times they would probably do that?

Thanks for the replies, but I am not seeing an answer to my initial question. Suppose that they insert an import for a Canadian on the offense some point during the game. It is noted by the head linesman or whoever is responsible for watching this ratio thing. The coach says to this person, "ah, but we are putting a Canadian into the defensive lineup in place of an import the next time the defense goes on the field." 6-7 minutes later, the defense hits the field and they have not changed the ratio on defense at all. Does someone notice this and call a penalty? I have never seen a penalty called for this in the many, many years of watching CFL football. Are you telling me all teams play by the rules on this? They may post a starting lineup that follows the rules, but things happen during the game where substitutions occur frequently. Who is watching all of this and why haven't teams been caught breaking this rule?

There are two cases. The normal case is that when a designated import enters the game other than on a special team play, one of the starting imports must come off for that play. The other case is the scenario you mention. In that case, the team must state which import starting player on the other side of the ball is being replaced, and that player is not allowed to enter the game after that. This provides flexibility in replacing an injured import player. And yes, a penalty would be called if that replaced player entered the game at some point’ assuming, of course, anyone noticed (including the opposing coaches, who I’m sure would immediately let the officials know).

While I don't know the answer to this intriguing question (not one I've ever seen posed before) you could always ask the CFL directly at:


CatsFaninOttawa may be correct but it doesn't hurt to get confirmation from an official source. :wink:

The rule for designated imports is defined in the CFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 23: Roster Size, last paragraph.


To answer your question a little better I will give you an example that BC uses. The substitutions must be done simultaneously. For example: BC starts Andrew Harris as a Non import RB and Arland Bruce as an Import SB. Harris' back up RB is Tim Brown an import so when Brown comes into the game for Harris he is packaged in with Paris Jackson a non import SB who comes in for Arland Bruce. I am sure that BC informs the official in charge of this before the game as it is part of their regular rotation but the players still need to check in with the official in charge when they enter the game.

As for the other question concerning the starting of more than the required 7 non imports sometimes a non import is simply better than an import at that position, it does happen. Also even if a tam starts say 8 imports in this case you were speaking of a D line man. Said D lineman may not be part of the required 7 starting imports but rather just a non import starting and rotating on the Dline with imports which is allowed.
Calgary starts 8 non imports on offense alone Cornishes back up is also a non import now in Matt Walter. his back up was once leMarcus Coker but as soon as Cornish began taking every snap Walter was inserted as his back up because he is a better special teams player than coker and also allowed for another import to be on the 42 game roster of 19 imports at another position.
To make it a little more confusing When larry taylor was injured Coker again began dressing for games in place of Taylor to return Kicks but with 8 starting non imports on offense Coker could also come in for Cornish if needed because they start 8 non imports on offense and one on defense for a total of 9 giving them the flexibility to sub an import for a non import and still meet the ratio requirements.
Can be confusng when you first learn about it but the coaches, players, and officials it is second Nature
Hope that helped

Excellent summary. Thanks Steve.

It is a good thing that Cortez has some good Non import depth. tonights game in Edmonton they are starting 3 imports on the O line. With the flexibility they have starting an NI CB and Safety along with the fantuz and Giguere and stalla in the 5 wideout set and Stephanson in the FB/TE set. Having steele start on the Dline is some insurance as the 8th starter he can be roteded with import smith. They also have Laval rookie Fortin on the 46 right now as a NI DE. He has mostly just played sp teams this year but we are coming up on the last 5 games of the season so a rookie from Laval may be ready to see a little PT at DE in Necc.
Whatever it comes down to this move with 3 imports on the OL means that Sticky Stalla will be the 5th receiver for sure. Look for either he or fantuz to have a good game. Stalla had been playing well and that drew attention away from Fantuz last week. Also they could forget about Giguere on the outside if the esks choose to key on wide wide SB stalla and fantuz.
Hamilton with a stronger O Line along with Edmontons Dline injuries and Sherrit being out should give Burris some time to throw. EDmonton may have the best set of Dbs in the CFL but even they can only cover for so long