1. Kickoffs

    On a kick off, until the ball is legally in possession, the only reviewable aspects are whether the ball is legally touched and who touched first, or last, before going out of bounds.

  2. Running Plays

    On running plays there are four basic situations which are reviewable:

    1. Determining whether a ball carrier is down / not down by contact. Replay may also confirm a fumble prior to down by contact.
    2. Determining whether the ball in possession breaks the plane of the goal line.
    3. Determining whether first down yardage has been gained on 3rd down play.
    4. Determining whether a ball carrier had stepped out of bounds.
  3. Passing Plays

    There are a number of situations where a pass play is reviewable, including the following major categories:

    1. When a pass is ruled completed, and subsequent review shows it incomplete, it shall be ruled incomplete with downs continuing.
    2. When the QB is hit while throwing:

      if it is ruled as a fumble and the offence successfully challenges the play as an incomplete pass; if the correct ruling is incomplete pass, the ball shall be ruled incomplete with downs continuing.

    3. Where a pass is ruled complete / incomplete near a sideline, goal line, sideline in goal or dead ball line.
  4. Kicking Plays

    Plays that are reviewable primarily involve:

    1. touching of the ball
    2. reception of the ball at the boundary lines
    3. determination of possible onside players
  5. Scoring Plays

    Most plays involving the goal line and the end zone are reviewable.

    Field goals and extra points kick plays are not reviewable.

  6. Plays Involving Offside Passes Or Forward Passes Made After Crossing The Line Of Scrimmage

    Where a pass is thrown in a forward or offside direction, and is not a legal forward pass

    1. offside pass, whenever and wherever it occurs
    2. illegal forward pass - passer crossing the line of scrimmage and making forward pass
  7. Game Administration

    Instant replay can be used for timing, downs and distance only in conjunction with a reviewable play.

    Situations involving the clock; penalty administration; spotting the ball other than for first down; etc. are not reviewable.

    When reviewing a play, the Referee may change the ruling on any reviewable aspect of the play.

Penalties which are created as a direct result of the change in ruling may be applied even though a flag had not been thrown, and penalties that were called during the play may be cancelled as a direct result of the change in ruling.

A penalty which occurred after the ball was ruled dead by replay review will not be applied, unless it is a Major Foul.

When the Referee changes the ruling based on an aspect of the play other than what was challenged, the challenging team retains their challenge and is not charged a time out.


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Content compiled and entered by Darren Hackwood and Andre 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 Senior Advisor, Football Operations @