CFL introduces 4 rule changes for 2009 season

The Canadian Football League board of governors on Monday approved moving the kickoff back 10 yards to the 25-yard line following a safety, one of four rule changes suggested by fans.

Teams will be required to kick off after every successful field goal

Canadian Football League fans have spoken, and on Monday, it was clear they had been heard.

Four changes approved by the CFL's rules committee in March were rubber-stamped by its board of governors.

They include:

  • Moving back the kickoff following a safety touch to reduce the number of times a team chooses to take a knee in its own end zone.
  • Giving coaches the green light to use so-called wildcat formations that would move the quarterback around, instead of requiring him to stand behind or under centre.
  • Requiring a team that kicks a successful field goal to then kick off to its opponents, increasing the number of kick returns.
  • Awarding a team a third instant replay challenge if its first two challenges are successful.

The league received more than 2,000 submissions this year, the first time fans were invited to suggest ideas for changes to the rules of the game.

"It's exciting to know that some of our fans will see their ideas in action when our season kicks off on Canada Day, July 1," CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said Monday.

"Our board of governors values our fans from coast to coast and was very supportive of including them in our process. That support was evident in their vote today."

According to a CFL news release, several fans wanted some sort of change made to the safety touch, citing coaches' tendency to surrender two points in their own end zone to preserve field position instead of punting the ball away to their opponents, which could set up a kick return or offensive drive with a high chance of scoring.

The Board also approved moving the kickoff following a safety back to the 25-yard line from the 35, which could encourage more coaches to kick the ball away rather than take a knee in the end zone.

Other fans called for the introduction of the so-called wildcat formation, which would require a change to the CFL rule that required the quarterback to always line up under or behind the centre of the offensive line.

Under the new rule, the quarterback is allowed to move to other spots in a formation, including at wide receiver, before the ball is snapped.

Fans generally wanted to see more kick returns, so the board approved a rule requiring a kickoff after every successful field goal, instead of giving the receiving team the option of scrimmaging from their 35-yard-line.

It also approved awarding a team with a third challenge of an official's call using replay if its first two challenges are successful.

Training camps open June 7, with pre-season games scheduled for June 17 and June 23. The 2009 regular season begins July 1, with a Canada Day doubleheader featuring the Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton at 7 p.m. ET and the Montreal Alouettes visiting the Calgary Stampeders at 10 p.m. ET, in a Grey Cup rematch.

With files from The Canadian Press