CFL rule change means coaches won’t be allowed to challenge illegal contact

TORONTO — CFL coaches won’t be allowed to challenge illegal contact calls this season.

The CFL eliminated illegal contact as a challengeable call Wednesday, and the change will be in place when the regular season kicks off next month.

The rule change was one of many approved by the CFL’s board of governors and first proposed by the league’s rules committee earlier this year.

“The governors have again emphasized the importance of player safety to our league, as well as the need to protect game flow on behalf of our fans,” Darren Hackwood, the CFL’s senior director of officiating, said in a statement.

Other rule changes adopted by the league include:

— A replay official will automatically review “potential touchdowns,” plays marked down short of the line when it seems obvious a TD has been scored.

— A player can’t deliver a forcible block on an opponent while moving back towards his own goal line. This is often referred to as a “blindside” block.

— Low blocks happening outside of the “tackle box” — the area extending from tight end to tight end and the quarterback or kicker to two yards beyond the line of scrimmage — are not allowed.

— The definition of spearing is extended to include any situation where a player delivers a blow with his helmet as the initial or primary point of contact. This doesn’t apply to a low-running ball carrier.

— A loophole in the “sleeper” play rule is closed by making it illegal for a player entering a game and remaining outside the numbers to receive the ball in any manner, including a kick or lateral.

— A quarterback making a legal pass behind the line of scrimmage is now defined as the passer having at least one of his feet on or behind the line of scrimmage instead of requiring the release point of the ball being behind the line of scrimmage.

— The so-called “force-out rule” is no longer. A receiver catching a ball must have at least one foot in bounds regardless of whether he was contacted in mid-air.

— The penalty for “pyramiding” — the use of one player to elevate another to block a kick — is increased to 10 yards from five yards.

— Allowing the replay official to fix the game clock after a challenge to what the clock should read as a result of the challenge.

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