Team A shall have three downs in which to gain the required distance of 10 yards. A down may be repeated following the application of a penalty against either team. If in a series of three downs, Team A has not gained the required 10 yards, the ball shall be awarded to the opponents as first down at the point where the ball becomes dead. If the required 10 yards are gained, a new series of downs begins.

"Consecutive" shall mean possession in a continuous series of downs in which the ball is in possession of the one team.

The continuity of downs is interrupted:

  1. When the ball, having been kicked, other than dribbled, crosses the line of scrimmage.
  2. When on a scrimmage play, the ball is dribbled by Team B.
  3. When the ball definitely passes into possession of opponents. Touching the ball by opponents is not possession.
  4. When the required distance is gained.
  5. When the ball is kicked Out of Bounds.

In measuring for downs, the forward point of the ball, and not its centre, shall be the determining point and the ball, before measuring, shall be rotated so that its long axis is parallel to the Sidelines. A touchdown cannot be awarded as a result of such rotation.

NOTE: When Team A has failed to gain the distance required for a first down and the ball is awarded to Team B, the Referee shall reverse the ball in order to have the forward point facing in the opposite direction.


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Publication Credits

Cover Design by Barnstorm Creative

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Content compiled and entered by Darren Hackwood, Glen Johnson 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 Glen Johnson, Officiating Technical Advisor, @