The Canadian Football League (CFL) is more or less the Canadian version of the National Football League (NFL). It is the highest level of professional football in Canada, and is a close second to the NHL in terms of favorite major sports leagues in the country.

Founded in 1958, the league is comprised of nine teams from nine different Canadian cities coast to coast. In the CFL each team plays at least 18 games in the 20-week regular season, which runs from late June to early November. When the regular season is over, three weeks of Playoffs commence. During playoffs, the six teams who are at the top of their conference (either the east conference or the west conference) face off to win the ultimate CFL prize,  the Grey Cup.

Games are played on fields 150 yards  (137 meters) long and 65 yards (59 meters) wide. At each end rests the 20-yard (180-meter) end zone. In each end zone at the goal line is a goal post 40 feet (12 meters) high.

Photo Credit: tewarianuj – Flickr, cc via Wikimedia Commons

Rules of the CFL

Each team has 12 players on the field at once. To begin the game, the starting team kicks the ball from the 35 yard line, while both teams try to catch the ball. When the ball is caught, the players run towards their respective goal line, and the player with the ball may throw horizontally to a teammate. Play is stopped when a player is tackled to the ground so that any body part other than their feet or hands touches the ground.

A scrimmage kick is made by the offensive team to continue the game, at which point a player snaps the ball (passes it through his legs) to the quarterback behind him. The quarterback can kick the ball, run with the ball, or pass the ball to a teammate. Each play is called a “down.”

The offensive team must gain at least 10 yards towards the goal line on a play in order for them to get three more downs. If they do not make 10 yards, their plays are not reset and they have two more chances to make at least 10 yards to gain another three plays. In the three plays, a team must accumulate 10 yards to keep the ball.  If they do not, the offensive team brings out their defensive line, and the other team becomes the offense.

  • A touchdown in the CFL is called a major, and is when a player gets the ball across their opponent’s goal line. It is worth six points.
  • A field goal is when the ball is kicked through the opponent’s goal posts. It worth three points
  • A conversion comes after a touchdown and can be worth one point if it is what would normally have been a field goal, or two points if it was what would normally have been a touchdown.

Play then continues with a kick-off by the team that scored, and the process begins again.

Teams of the CFL in Canada:

Eastern Division
  • Hamilton Tiger Cats (team colors: black, gold, white)
  • Montreal Alouettes (team colors: red, blue, silver, white)
  • Ottawa Redbacks (team colors: red, white, black)
  • Toronto Argonauts (team colors: dark blue, light blue, white)

Western Division

  • BC Lions  (team colors: orange, white, black)
  • Calgary Stampeders (team colors: red, black, white)
  • Edmonton Eskimos (team colors: gold, green)
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders (team colors: green, silver, black, white)
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers (team colors: blue, gold)

For more about the rules, news, schedules, and teams of the CFL, click here.


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About Georgia

For years, I knew that I wanted to move to Canada to get my postsecondary education. From the exciting and diverse museums, nightlife and dining found in the big cities, to the wealth of natural beauty, I was captivated by the country. I was a little nervous to travel all the way from Australia, but I knew the experience would teach me a lot. It’s true that relocation is never easy. The packing, shipping and visa formalities can all be complicated. But with careful planning and a little help from the veteran relocators (like me!) you’ll be settling in and enjoying the vibrancy of Canadian living in no time. // Depuis plusieurs années, je savais que le Canada était le pays parfait où je pouvais obtenir mon diplôme d’études secondaires. J’étais captivée par les villes du Canada que ce soit par les musées, les soirées, les repas dans les grandes villes ou encore la proximité de la beauté des paysages. J’étais anxieuse à l’idée de faire le voyage à partir de l’Australie mais je savais que cette expérience allait m’apprendre énormément de choses. C’est vrai que la relocalisation n’est jamais facile. L’emballage des affaires, l’expédition et les formalités de visa peuvent être stressants et compliqués mais avec une bonne organisation et un peu d’aide des anciens relocalisés ( comme moi ), vous serez rapidement installé et pourrez profiter de la trépidante vie canadienne en peu de temps.