CFL tweaks game rule

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

HAMILTON -- The Argonauts got their way, with a twist.

General manager Adam Rita had a change in mind when the rules committee met at the Canadian Football League's annual Congress this week.

Under existing rules, a team that gives up a field goal has a choice of receiving a kickoff or scrimmaging from its own 35-yard line. The Argos wanted an amendment in which a team that allowed a field goal in the final three minutes of a half or a game would have to take a kickoff. The rules committee went one further, deciding that a team no longer can take over at its own 35 after a field goal, no matter what the clock says. The team has to receive a kick.

"I'm excited for the fans, because now, the kicking team can go for an onside kick and it has a chance to win if it's late in the game," Rita said. "This enhances the Canadian game. We have a good game, but a tweak here and there is fine."

Said director of officiating Tom Higgins: "After one year, we could come back and say: 'What we were thinking?' But this should make it more exciting. Don't just place the ball on the 35. Now you have to earn it."

No official rule changes officially have taken effect, yet. The committee will take its proposals to the annual board of governors meeting in the spring, which usually rubber-stamps them.

Excluding the field-goal rule, the board will consider three other items the rules committee approved:

- Moving the kickoff back 10 yards after a safety touch to reduce the number of times a team takes a knee in its own end zone.

- Awarding a team a third challenge of an official's ruling using instant replay if that team's first two challenges are successful.

- Instituting a wildcat rule, wherein coaches would have the option of snapping the ball to a player, such as a receiver or a running back, other than the quarterback.

Also, the league will have a command centre set up in Toronto for each game, which will take the replay pressure off the on-field officials.

"The most important thing to understand about replay is that will never be perfect," Higgins said. "The advantage of the command centre is we will be looking at the replays well in advance of the referee getting under the hood. The decision will be coming from Toronto."

The CFL gave its fans a chance to have some input into rule changes, and more than 2,000 responses followed. The four ideas approved by the rules committee were among those submitted by fans, in one form or another.

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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