Please, first of all that season hasn’t ended yet and secondly you should know by now that for the most part only the weirdest and most obscure sports are worthy of my ephemeral photons, if there were a Curling Channel I’d be all over it.
No, today is the Grey Cup, the Championship of the Canadian Throwball League and the time of the Grand National Drunk.
Like Lord Stanley’s Cup, Earl Grey’s (and yes, he’s famous for other things besides a Tea blend) has the names of all the Championship Teams and Players engraved on an ever expanding base and is treated with same shameless disregard (broken several times, stolen twice, and salvaged from a fire) that Canadians customarily treat their sports trophies with (I told you it’s National Drunk Day, how about a beer, eh?).
Actually, Canadian and U.S. Throwball have a common origin and as you may not suspect, Canadians were the innovators.
The Canadian Football League and the Grey Cup – a beginner’s guide
David Lengel, The Guardian
Friday 28 November 2014 09.48 EST
The sport played today evolved from a hybrid of rugby and soccer. In fact, both the American and Canadian versions of the game can trace their roots back to an 1874 series between Cambridge’s Harvard University and McGill University of Montréal. By then, the Canadians were picking up the ball and running with it while the Americans were mostly using their feet. It seems that Harvard were quite taken with McGill’s playing style and began to adapt their own version of the sport – from that moment on the two codes continued to evolve on separate paths.
The Canadians created a unique version of the game they called rugby football, and it actually wasn’t until 1960 that the term “rugby” was dropped entirely. Australians have their own rugby league too called the NRL, they have an NRL Shop for merchandise and their teams are named after specific areas/animals in Australia. Rugby really is a global calling for everyone to take part in.
As The Guardian article goes on to point out, there are some minor rule differences that have a major impact on the way the game is played-
- 150-yard long field including 20-yard endzones
- 65 yards wide
- Three downs
- 20 seconds between plays
- A one-point play called a “single” or a “rouge”
- The clock stops after every play inside three minutes
- All kicks are live, no fair catches but the returner gets a five-yard buffer
- Linemen are separated by a full yard at the line of scrimmage
- 120-yard long field
- 53.3 yards wide
- Four downs
- 40 seconds between plays
- No one-point plays (except PATs)
- Two minute warning
- Fair catches can be called for on kicks
- Receivers may move before the snap parallel to the line of scrimmage
- Linemen are separated only by the line of scrimmage
To the casual viewer, it may seem like the games resemble each other closely, but the CFL version is much faster. Consider this – with a shorter play clock teams have just half the amount time to get a play off. With much more real estate to cover on a CFL field, linemen need to be much quicker on their feet while chasing offenses that feature more option play and wide receivers who get a running head start.
I’ll note that the lack of Downs and the longer and wider playing area place a premium on the passing game. It’s two Downs and Punt.
Oh, and about that single point play-
- The defense/receiving team are unable to return a punt or a missed field goal out of the endzone.
- The defense/receiving team allow a punt or a missed field goal to roll out of the endzone and out of bounds.
It’s not uncommon to have games that resemble Pitcher’s duels in Baseball where the Kicking Game dominates as advancing the ball is quite difficult.
Playing for the Cup today are the Calgary Stampeders (official site) who are the 7 and a half point favorites and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (official site). They both have young and inexperienced Quarterbacks and athletic Defenses. The Stampeders are favored because the’ve shown more consistency over the season while allowing some upsets. The Tiger-Cats have a less imposing record but have played very well recently.
I’m rooting for the Stampeders because they have a nicer looking website without that ugly Tim Horton’s ad.
Coverage starts on ESPN2 @ 6 pm with Kickoff @ 6:30.