Getting to grips with Canadian football

Canadian football, not to be confused with soccer, is actually very similar to American football. The sport, football, as a whole is similar to rugby in that it is a free running contact sport with the aim of getting the ball down to the opposition’s half where the team will score. However, the differences end there. In rugby, the ball is passed backwards only, whereas in football everything is going forwards. Though coming after the development of American football, Canadian football, established in 1861, is hugely popular in its own right, having a number of leagues and high profile tournaments in its own country. In fact, it’s still relatively confined to this country even now.

Star players

As with many sports, there are always star players, and these usually receive some accolade from acknowledging this fact. For Canadian footballers, this comes in the form of CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award. Each year, the players are all nominated based on their performance throughout the year, and whether they have achieved any great scoring, strategic plays and generally propelled their team forward. Over the years, many notable players have gained this award, the most recent of which is Bo Levi Mitchell. Playing for Calgary Stampeders from 2012, he quickly became their star quarterback taking the team on to win the Grey Cup, not once, but twice. He’s also won the Outstanding Player Award before, too!

If we head a little further back in time though, other Canadian players blow this record out of the water. The first name that springs to mind is Doug Flutie. Another player for the Calgary Stampeders, Flutie won this prestigious award, not once, but six times! To this day, this record stands. He also took his team to numerous Grey Cup victories and earned himself the MVP on two of those occasions. If you’re looking for a modern hero, then Anthony Calvillo is up there with the best. Just recently retired, he is the all-time passing leader, has won 3 Grey Cups and has won the Most Outstanding Player award 3 times.

What’s the difference between Canadian and American football?

There are some key differences between American and Canadian football. The latter’s pitch is longer, wider and deeper than their American counterpart. Also, the posts are actually at the front of the end zone in Canadian football compared to being at the back of the end zone with American. Further to this, the points are therefore taken at different places between the two different types of games. There’s an added bonus for teams in the Canadian version of the game too, in that they have teams of 12 rather than the American 11. This extra person can play backfield in the offence, but any position when the defence team is in play – Read more about American football here.

Canadian football, despite deviating a lot from its rugby roots, does retain some elements of that sport. There is still an open field kick allowed. This means that a player may kick the ball at any time. In contrast, American footballers can only kick the ball when behind the line of scrimmage. Canadian football also offers an extra point-scoring element. This comes in the form of the ‘rouge’ where a single point is awarded if the ball goes out of the end zone or is

not returned from there. The final difference is that if a ball goes out, the last player to touch it gets it in Canadian football, whereas American football rewards the team in possession.

Canadian football league

The Canadian Football League (CFL) is the highest level of competitive play for this sport. It has nine teams that play, each one from a different Canadian city. These teams are placed in two divisions – the east holding four teams and the west containing five. Similar to other sporting formats, the season has 18 games, which take place over 21 weeks. Winners receive the Grey Cup if they succeed in beating out the other teams during the league. The last team to have won this cup is currently the Calgary Stampeders (yes, they feature a lot!), having finally succeeded after a rather disappointing season previously. Bring on the new season and let’s see who takes the crown.

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