RULE 1 — CONDUCT OF THE GAME

SECTION 7 — STARTING & TIMING

Article 1 — Starting#

The game shall start promptly at the time prescribed by the Commissioner. If the team is late appearing on the field at the start of the first or third periods, they will be penalized.

PENALTY: L10

At the start of the game, the captains of both teams shall meet the Referee at centre field. The Referee shall toss a coin with the visiting team captain making the call. The captain of the team winning the coin toss shall declare whether to have first choice at the start of the first or second half.

The captain of team having first choice at the start of the first half shall choose between:

  1. kicking off or receiving the kickoff or,
  2. which end of the field to defend.

The captain of the other team shall have first choice at the start of the second half, when both captains shall again meet the Referee at centre field to make their choices.

Article 2 — Playing & Rest Periods#

The length of game shall be 60 minutes of actual playing time, divided into four periods of 15 minutes each. The scoreboard clock shall be the official time for the game and shall be operated under the direction and control of the Timekeeper. (See Rule 2, Section 2, Article 10).

Goals shall be changed at the end of the first and third periods. At the start of the second and fourth periods, the ball shall be put into play at a point corresponding exactly to the point at the other end of the field where the ball became dead at the end of the previous period. It shall be put into play in exactly the same manner as if play had not been interrupted.

The kickoff to start the second half shall take place at exactly 14 minutes after the conclusion of the first half and a team shall be subject to penalty if the players are not lined up on the field ready to start the second half at that time.

PENALTY: L10

Article 3 — Time Out#

Time shall start when the ball is touched following the kickoff at the start of a half, or after a scoring play, and shall continue until the ball is ruled dead and an official signals to the timekeeper that time shall stop for any of the following reasons:

  • When a score has been made
  • When the ball goes Out of Bounds
  • When a forward pass is incomplete
  • For the application of penalties
  • For player substitution
  • For delay caused by player injury
  • When time expires at the end of each period
  • When the ball becomes dead after the three-minute warning has been given in any half
  • When a player requests a team timeout
  • For a convert attempt during the last three minutes of a half
  • When the Referee deems it necessary to suspend play.

If in any period the ball becomes dead with only a short period of time remaining, the team in possession shall be entitled to one complete play even though that play may extend beyond the normal termination of that period.

If a touchdown is scored on the last play of a period, the period shall be extended to include the convert attempt.

Article 4 — Time In#

After a time out for any reason, time shall start again on the signal of the Referee for any of the following reasons:

  • When the ball is touched following a kickoff
  • When it is ready to be scrimmaged
  • When it is snapped immediately after a time count foul
  • When it is snapped on the play immediately following a time out due to crowd noise
  • When it is snapped following a team time out
  • When it is snapped after Team A creates two consecutive fouls prior to the ball being put legally into play prior to the last three minutes of any half
  • When it is snapped on the play immediately following a kickoff or a kick from scrimmage or an open-field kick during the last three minutes in any half
  • When it is snapped immediately following a play during which possession changed in the last three minutes in any half
  • When it is snapped immediately following an incomplete legal forward pass in the last three minutes in any half
  • When it is snapped immediately following a time out caused by the ball being carried Out of Bounds during the last three minutes in any half
  • When it is snapped immediately following a score during the last three minutes in any half
  • When it is snapped immediately following the application of a penalty for a foul that occurs after the three-minute warning signal has been given in any half — however, the non-offending team may decline the penalty and permit time to resume as though a foul had not occurred
  • When it is snapped immediately following the application of dual penalties during the last three minutes of a half.
  • When it is snapped after Team A commits an offensive foul prior to the snap, inside their own 25 yd line or on any convert attempt.

If, during the last three minutes of a half, an infraction is committed before the ball can be snapped the non-offending team may:

  1. accept the penalty, in which case time shall resume on the snap or,
  2. decline the penalty and elect whether time shall resume on the snap or when the Referee declares the ball in play.

After a touchdown, time shall stop and shall resume when the Referee declares the ball in play for a convert attempt, except during the last three minutes of a half, when time shall resume when the ball is touched on the ensuing kickoff.

Article 5 — Team Time Out#

During a half, a team shall be permitted to call one time out, subject to the following:

  1. the time out may be requested by any player on the field, or the Head Coach, and may be directed to any official on the field,
  2. the time out shall be 30 seconds in duration,
  3. the game time will resume on the snap.

Article 6 — Instant Replay Review#

An Instant Replay Review request, challenging the ruling on the field, may only be initiated by the Head Coach, who will throw a marker flag onto the field, prior to the ball being put next into play.

Each team will have the ability to execute two (2) challenges per game.

The first challenge will have no impact on team time outs, regardless of the outcome of the challenge.

A second challenge, if unsuccessful, will result in the loss of a team time out, either first or second half.

In order to execute a second challenge, a team must have a team time out remaining.

If both first half and second half team time outs have been used prior to any challenges, a team will continue to have the opportunity for one challenge.

Article 7 — Ball In Play#

The ball shall be considered in play until an official stops the game by sounding the whistle.

The game shall not be stopped because of player injury until the ball is dead.

The Referee shall not stop the game to impose a penalty until the ball is dead.

Article 8 — Delay Of Game#

The game shall not be delayed except by permission of the Referee. Any unauthorized delay shall be subject to penalty.

  1. If the Referee finds it necessary to suspend play while a player in the game has equipment repairs, that player shall be required to leave the game for a minimum of three plays.
  2. If the Referee finds it necessary to suspend play while an injured player receives medical attention on the field, that player shall be required to leave the game for a minimum of three plays, except when the injury had occurred as a direct result of an infraction for which the opponent was penalized, in which event the Referee may waive the requirement for the player to leave the game.
  3. On a kickoff, Team A shall be required to kick the ball within 20 seconds of notification by the Referee that play is to commence.
  4. If a Team B player interferes with the placement of the ball after it has been declared in play by the Referee, that team shall be penalized.

PENALTY: L10

Article 9 — Time Count#

The Referee shall allow Team A 20 seconds in which to put the ball into play. If the stadium countdown clock is not in operation, the Referee shall be the sole judge as to when the time count shall commence, after allowing both teams reasonable time in which to line up after the preceding play.

PENALTY: L5 DR — Yardage penalty may be declined.

NOTE: After the three-minute warning has been given in a half the penalty shall be 12DLD, 3DL10 DR.

NOTE: The penalty for a time count violation on a convert attempt shall be L5 DR at any time during the game.

NOTE: If in the opinion of the Referee, Team A is taking a deliberate third down time count penalty, the Referee may order Team A to put the ball in play legally within 20 seconds or forfeit possession to Team B.

Article 10 — Crowd Noise#

The Team A captain may request the Referee to stop the game if excessive crowd noise prevents Team A from putting the ball into play. The Referee may permit Team A to return to its huddle. The Referee shall allow reasonable time but under no circumstances shall the play be delayed more than three times.

In the event that the home team permits in its stadium the use of either electronic equipment or high volume loudspeakers when the visiting team is attempting to put the ball in play, with the result that the game is delayed, the home team shall be subject to penalty for delay of game.

PENALTY: L10

Article 11 — Ball In Goal#

The ball is in goal if it is on or behind the Goal Line, even in the air.

THE OFFICIAL PLAYING RULES FOR THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE 2007

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Content compiled and entered by Vern Heath and Josh Oubadia

Special thanks to George Black, Shawn Coates, Glen Johnson and André Proulx

The CFL Official Rule Book is published annually by the Canadian Football League. Any inquiries regarding the CFL Official Playing Rules may be directed to George Black at gblack@cfl.ca.