The Rouge: Stay or Go?
Published: Wednesday, Mar 4th 2020, 7:03am
By Sheldon Jones
There is a lot of talk around social media regarding the possibility of the removal of the rouge from the CFL. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated that the CFL Rules committee has been floating around the notion of eliminating or changing the way the rules work that give team a single point for missed Field Goals. While the rouge has always been the “Canadian thing” that is unique and helps separate our game from the NFL, is rewarding failure (a missed Field Goal) something we should continue to do?
Currently in the CFL if a team attempts a Field Goal and misses and the ball travels through the end zone or is downed in the endzone by the opposing team, a single point or “rouge” is scored. If the football hits the uprights and does not ricochet in, the play is considered dead and no point is scored. A team can also score a rouge on a punt if the ball travels through the opposing endzone or again is downed by the other team. Proponents of the rouge would argue that the awarding of the single point is not for failure, but for the success of marching down the field to be in the position to kick the ball out the back of the end zone. While this may have been understandable in the past before the adoption of downfield passes and the explosiveness that the CFL offense has become, now it absolutely is rewarding failure.
We don’t have to look too far back into the past to see a situation like this impact the final score of a game. Last season the BC Lions beat the Toronto Argonauts 18-17 because of a missed last second Field Goal. The Argo player caught the ball while his foot was out of bounds leading to the single point. While I am certainly for a rule change that would not give a single point for missed Field Goals that travel through the end zone, I believe that the rouge does belong in the CFL. If the receiving player downs the ball in the endzone I believe a single point should be awarded.
On punts when the ball goes out of the side or back of the endzone the receiving team gets to scrimmage the ball at their own 35-yard line, which is pretty decent field position. Currently by awarding the single point it serves to offset that field position by giving the kicking team the point. I feel that this is again rewarding failure. Unless the game is tied in the deciding seconds of a game, no punter will ever want their punt to result in a rouge. The punters job is to place the ball in a way that the receiving team is stopped as close to their endzone as possible. By giving the team the single point its almost like saying “well you screwed up, but here’s a point”. Giving the opponent the ball at their 35-yard line should be enough of a deterrent to not punt the ball into the endzone.
While the rouge is a part of our beloved CFL, the time is right to make some changes as to how it affects our game. The league needs to stop rewarding the failures of our kickers and instead bring this game we all love a little closer to the future.