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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
After a time out for any reason, time shall start again on the signal of the Referee for any of the following reasons:
If, during the last three minutes of a half, an infraction is committed before the ball can be snapped the non-offending team may:
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.
Each team shall be granted two time outs per game and will be permitted to use them at any point during regulation time, subject to the following:
A Replay Review must be initiated by the Head Coach by throwing a challenge flag prior to the next legal snap. It is the responsibility of the coach to get the attention of the nearest official and to throw the challenge flag.
Each team will start with one challenge per game. If that challenge is successful, the team will be granted a second challenge.
If the challenge is unsuccessful, the team will lose a time-out.
A team must have a time-out remaining to challenge a play. In overtime, a team does not need a time-out to challenge.
The Command Centre will automatically review plays in certain game situations.
The team can challenge any challengeable ruling at any time during the game.
See Rule 10, Replay for complete details on this rule.
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.
The game shall not be delayed except by permission of the Referee. Any unauthorized delay shall be subject to penalty.
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.
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.
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.
The ball is in goal if it is on or behind the Goal Line, even in the air.
You are reading the 2021 version of the rulebook. Other available versions of this page are:
Converted to the web by CFLdb. An Adobe Acrobat PDF of the current version is available.
The original source of the version presently being viewed is © Copyright 2021 Canadian Football League
Content compiled and written by Jeff Harbin et (sic) 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, Associate Vice-President of Officiating at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any inquiries regarding CFL Statistical Scoring Rules may be directed to Jeff Krever, Head, CFL Player and Game Statistics at email@example.com.