Editor's note: On August 2nd, 2017, after Week 6 and before Week 7, the CFL announced an immediate change in the challenges available to coaches. For the remainder of the 2017 season, one challenge would be available to each team/coach per game. Except for this note, the Rule 10 — Replay section reflects the original rule published for the 2017 season.

The Replay Official will apply fact based visual evidence using feeds supplied by TSN and applying the appropriate rule interpretation and standards to make their decision to either change the ruling or leave it as it was called on the field.

There are two categories of challenges:

  1. Standard Reviewable Aspects

    These are the rulings described in Article 2 below that are all reviewed every time a play is reviewed for any reason.

  2. Coach Challengeable Penalties

    These are the called and non-called penalties described in Article 3 below that are only ever reviewed when specifically challenged by a coach.

Note: A challenge is deemed successful (or won) if the final ruling on the play is the outcome the team requested during their challenge. However, a team will get their challenge back if a review changes a different ruling on the play which makes the team challenge not relevant.

The following aspects are reviewable under this category

Scoring as defined in Rule 3

  • Whether a player has possession of ball in opponent's goal area
  • Whether a field goal or kicked convert travels between the uprights and over the crossbar
  • Whether a kicked ball goes dead in opponent's goal area
  • Whether a player with possession of ball goes dead in own goal area
  • Whether a field goal or convert attempt scores or is missed


  • Whether a pass is complete, incomplete or intercepted
  • Whether a receiver is forced out near a boundary line
  • Who recovers a loose ball in field of play or goal area
  • Whether a fumbled ball is recovered immediately
  • Whether a ball carrier fumbles or is down with contact, out of bounds or scores
  • Whether a ball carrier was down with contact when the play has been allowed to continue
  • Whether a pass is forward or onside
  • Whether a passer has passed or fumbled the ball
  • Touching of the Ball that is Not in Possession of a Player
  • Whether a forward pass is touched by a defensive player
  • Whether a forward pass is touched by an illegible receiver *
  • Whether a kicked ball has been touched by a player called for contacting the kicker
  • Who and where all kicked balls are first touched *
  • Who last touched a loose ball before it goes out of bounds

Boundary Line Rulings

  • Whether ball carrier stepped on sideline if not ruled out of bounds on field
  • Whether kick from scrimmage went out of bounds in flight *
  • Whether a player gains possession of a kick in bounds or out of bounds
  • Whether a player participates illegally on a play – illegal participation *

Other Situations

  • Whether a pass is onside or offside
  • Whether a player is onside or offside on kicks from scrimmage, open field kicks or dribbled balls *
  • Whether a passer is behind or beyond the line of scrimmage on a forward pass *
  • Whether two forward passes occur on the same play *
  • Whether a 1st down had been gained on a 3rd down attempt
  • Whether forward progress has been ruled correctly on the field
  • Whether a turnover occurs as a direct result of a major foul during the tackle or attempted tackle that was not called *
  • Whether a Team A player commits Illegal Interference on a player attempting to field a kick off *

Note: The Standard Reviewable Aspects identified above with an asterisk (*) may result in a penalty being found and applied which was not called on the field during play, or one that was called being nullified.

The following penalties may be challenged by the coach whether they were called or not called during play

  • Defensive Pass Interference
  • Illegal Contact on a Receiver
  • Offensive Pass Interference
  • Illegal Interference – Blocking Downfield on a pass play

Note: Should any of the above 4 penalties be challenged, all 4 types will be ruled on

  • Roughing the Passer
  • Roughing or Contacting the Kicker
  • No Yards

The following penalty may be challenged by the coach ONLY if it was called during play

  • Illegal Block Penalties on Kick Plays

There are three ways to initiate a review:

  1. Team Challenges
  2. Automatic Reviews
  3. Replay Official Initiated Reviews
  1. Team Challenges:
    • Must be initiated by Head Coach by throwing a challenge flag prior to the next legal snap or within 30 seconds of the start of any TV commercial timeout. It is the responsibility of the coach to get the attention of the nearest official and to throw his challenge flag.
    • Each team gets two challenges per game, and a third challenge is earned if a Coach wins both of his first 2 challenges.
    • A team must have a time-out remaining to initiate a challenge.
    • If the challenge is unsuccessful prior to the 3-minute warning being given in the 4th quarter, the team will lose a time-out.
    • A team may challenge a Standard Reviewable Aspect at any time prior to the 3 minute warning being given in the 4th quarter.
      • A review of any Standard Reviewable Aspect will also automatically include reviewing all other Standard Reviewable Aspects.
    • A team may challenge a Coach Challengeable Penalty at any time in the game like any other challenge subject to the following:
      • The coach must identify the player that allegedly committed the foul or the player upon whom the foul was committed. Only those players will be viewed in the review.
      • Coach Challengeable Penalties are not Standard Reviewable Aspects and will not be automatically reviewed by the Replay Official under any circumstance.
      • A team will only be able to challenge a Coach Challengeable Penalty a maximum of ONE TIME after the 3 minute warning has been given in the 4th quarter and Overtime (together deemed as one period of time) even if they had 2 challenges remaining going into this period of time.
      • After the three-minute warning has been given in the 4th quarter, a team must have both a challenge and a time-out remaining, or if in Overtime the team must have only a challenge remaining, to be able to challenge a Coach Challengeable Penalty.
        • If a team challenges a Called penalty during this time, the team uses its challenge but does NOT put a time- out at risk.
        • If a team challenges a non-called penalty during this time and the ruling is not changed, then the team uses its challenge AND loses its remaining time-out regardless of whether this was their first challenge in the game.
    • A team may challenge a Standard Reviewable Aspect that has already been automatically reviewed by the Replay Official. If they win that challenge they will retain their challenge.
    • A review of any Coach Challengeable Penalty will also automatically include reviewing all Standard Reviewable Aspects.
    • A team will be subject to a delay of game penalty for throwing a challenge flag for any of the following:
      • Attempting a challenge with no challenges remaining.
      • Attempting a challenge with no time-out remaining.
  2. Automatic Reviews:
    • The Replay Official will automatically review the following situations:
      • All plays ruled a score by the field officials.
      • All unsuccessful field goal or convert attempts.
      • All plays where a turnover is ruled to have occurred as a result of a fumble lost or an interception.
    • During these reviews the Replay Official will review all Standard Reviewable Aspects.
    • Coach Challengeable Penalties are never reviewed as part of an Automatic Review.
    • A team may challenge a Standard Reviewable Aspect that has already been automatically reviewed by the Replay Official. If they win that challenge they will retain their challenge.
    • Pending the outcome of an Automatic Review, a team may decide to initiate a Coach Challengeable Penalty review. This review will be treated like any other Team Challenge.
  3. Replay Official Initiated Reviews:
    • Following the 3 minute warning in the fourth quarter all plays become subject to review by the Replay Official for Standard Reviewable Aspects only.
      • If the Replay Official wants to review a play, he will notify the referee to stop the game.
      • Coach Challengeable Penalties are never reviewed as part of any Replay Official Initiated Review.
      • A team must use a Team Challenge to initiate the review of a Coach Challengeable Penalty.

Once a play has been reviewed by the Replay Official, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. The ruling on the field stands. This occurs when there is sufficient evidence to support the original ruling on the field or there is no indisputable evidence to overturn the ruling made on the field.

  2. The ruling on the field is overturned. This occurs when the Replay Official has indisputable visual evidence that the ruling should be changed.

Once the decision has been made and the Referee has been informed, he will return to the field and announce the outcome of the review.

During all reviews, the on-field officials are responsible for the down, distance and scrimmage line of the previous play. This information can also be obtained from the Video Official in the Command Centre or the Officiating Supervisor at the stadium.

Time will not be put back onto the game clock as a result of a successful challenge. On the last play of a half, if time runs out during a play that is subsequently reviewed, the half is over, regardless of the result of the review.

Prior to the last 3 Minutes of either half, after a Replay Review, the clock will start on the Referee’s ready for play signal, with a full 20 second clock.

In the last 3 minutes of each half, the normal special timing rules will apply. The clock would start at the prescribed time depending on the previous play, including the result of a challenge overturning a ruling on the field:

  • e.g.If ball was carried out of bounds – on the snap
  • If replay results in pass now ruled incomplete – on the snap
  • If replay results in pass now ruled completed and downed in field of play then clock would start on Referee’s ready for play signal.

When reviewing a play, the Replay Official may change the ruling on any Standard Reviewable Aspect of the play. The Replay Official will only review for a Coach Challengeable Penalty when a coach has specifically challenged that penalty.

Penalties which are created as a direct result of the change in ruling may be applied even though a penalty was not called during the play. Penalties that were called during the play may be cancelled as a direct result of the change in ruling. Penalties that may result as part of a review of Standard Reviewable Aspects are:

  • Major Foul which directly caused a turnover
  • Illegal Forward Pass when the passer is found to be across the line of scrimmage or two forward passes are found on the same play
  • Illegal Participation when a player is found to have gone out of bounds on his own and returns and participates in the play
  • Punt Out of Bounds in Flight if a kick from scrimmage is found to have gone directly out of bounds between the 20 yard lines
  • No Yards should a review of first touching or onside or offside players uncover a restraining zone foul
  • Illegal Interference on Kick Off


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Publication Credits

Content compiled and entered by Glen Johnson, Jeff Harbin 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 Darren Hackwood, Director of Officiating at Any inquiries regarding CFL Statistical Scoring Rules may be directed to Steve Daniel, Director of Game Information and Head Statistician at