Have you ever wondered what officials do on the football field? Football Canada has the answers! Watch this video!
The History of Canadian Football
We love our Canadian football, but what makes Canadian football…Canadian?
It all comes down to some rules set forth 120 years ago, named for a man who did not originate the rules, in an effort to separate football from rugby in Canada.
So, let's learn more!
The first documented football game in Canada was a practice game on Nov. 9, 1861 at University College in Toronto.
On Oct. 15, 1862, the first written account of a game appeared, played on the Montreal Cricket Grounds between the First Battalion Grenadier Guards and the Second Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards.
In 1864 in Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland, Fred Bethune & Chris Gwynn devised rules based on rugby.
In 1874, a team from McGill University played a game at Cambridge in Massachusetts. There, the McGill players found the Harvard players were playing a version of the kicking (soccer) game.
Two games were played, each under the other team's rules. The Harvard players liked the McGill form, and within a year, they convinced other Ivy League teams to adopt the new game. This eventually evolved into American football.
This rugby-football hybrid became popular, and the Canadian Rugby Football Union was founded in 1880.
The growth of the American game, spawned from that McGill-Harvard game, soon influenced the Canadian game as the influence of rugby began to decrease in Canada.
This led to the formation of the Burnside rules, adopted by the Ontario Rugby Football Union in 1903. The rules were named for John Thrift Meldrum Burnside, the captain of the University of Toronto team. Burnside did not originate the rules.
These rules reduced the number of players from 15 to 12 players per side. The number of players on the line of scrimmage when the ball was in play was reduced from eight to six. The snap back system was implemented, and a requirement of a team making ten yards in three successive down or losing possession was added.
As a result of these rules, the Canadian football game resembles American football, with some important differences. Originally, the two country's games were much more similar, but the American football implemented new changes as time went on, while Canadian football did not follow suit.
Most Canadians (rightly) feel that the Canadian rules make Canadian football more exciting.
It took some time for these rules to spread across Canada though. Other teams outside the Ontario Rugby Football Union did not adopt the rules for years.
As well, forward passes were not allowed until 1929, and touchdowns were only five points until they were increased to six points in 1956.
The Alberta Rugby Football Union, formed in 1911, started to use the Burnside rules, and they spread those rules to other Western Canadian football union.
In 1921, the Western Canada Rugby Football Union joined the Canadian Rugby Union and the Burnside rules became standard across Canada.
Source: Craig Beard
The 2023 season is upon us!
Photos courtesy of Dan Noordman
The MFOA continues to provide support crews and personnel to the CFL.
Mike Hillman represents the MFOA at University Flag Football Nationals!
MFOA members JP Chorney and Kyle Mikulik will don the stripes for the CFL during the 2023 season.
The fall football season has started!
Make sure your availability is up to date and current!
The MFOA gets ready to celebrate its 75th Anniversary!