Connect with us

CFL News

Three Intense Rivalries that Define the CFL

The Canadian Football League’s history has been a long and complex one. Originally founded in 1958, over the years it has seen increasing and decreasing involvement with the NFL.

At certain points it even included US teams including the Sacramento Gold Miners, the Las Vegas Posse and the Baltimore Stallions. In fact at one point a separate South Division was created in addition to the Western and Eastern Conferences that exist today.

The US involvement came to an end in 1996, leaving the nine teams that remain today and which compete in 18 matches each over the season.

That said, the NFL did grant the CFL a $3 million interest-free loan in 1997 to help with its precarious financial position. As part of this arrangement an agreement was included in which the NFL was able to recruit players who were in the option year of their contract.

However, this agreement came to an end in 2006 and the only real link that exists between the leagues today is a considerable interest by fans in Canada in the NFL odds Week 1

when teams over the border are trying to establish themselves at the start of the season.

Top teams and top players

With just nine teams in this league, compared with the 32 in the NFL, there’s a far smaller pool from which to pick the very best teams. But a few names do leap out in terms of results and the quality of their players.

Surely top of the list are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Winners of the Grey Cup in both 2019 and 2021, as well as runners-up last year to the Toronto Argonauts, they’ve also had a great start to this season with an 8/2 record by the middle of August.

It’s also a team packed full of star players, the best of whom is arguably Zach Collaros. The quarterback was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player in 2022 following career highs of achieving 305 of his 436 attempts for 4,138 yards and 37 touchdown passes. Another standout player for the Blue Bombers is Stanley Bryant, the 36-year-old offensive linesman now in his eighth season with the team.

Another outstanding team are the winners of last year’s Grey Cup, the Toronto Argonauts. In addition to the 2022 victory, they have also carried off the league’s top prize in 2012 and 2017 – so perhaps it’s on a five year cycle for them. Fans will be hoping this isn’t the case – otherwise they’ll be waiting until 2027 for more silverware.

Top of the East Division in the middle of August with only one loss to their name, the signs are good that they will definitely make the playoffs. Helping them to get there will be players Folarin Orimolade and linebacker Winton McManis.

And to spur on both the Blue Bombers and the Argonauts, they each have their own particular rivalries as a motivating factor.

The three big rivalries

While fewer teams also means fewer rivalries than in leagues like the NFL where notorious feuds include the ones between the Steelers and the Ravens and the Cowboys and the 49ers, grudges certainly exist. Here are the big three.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Rough Riders

We’ve the ex-Blue Bombers player Troy Westwood to thank for our first example. Although he achieved many personal records for the team including highest-ever career points total he’s probably best known for the inflammatory comments he made about the people of Saskatchewan. He once described them as “banjo-picking inbreds”. He then retracted the statement by saying that he didn’t actually believe any Saskatchewans could play the instrument at all.

As a result, there’s now an annual match between the two teams called the Banjo Bowl that’s held on the weekend after Labour Day.

Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats

Here’s a rivalry so famous they’ve even made a show about it.

In this case it’s more a case of geographical proximity that fuels the enmity, with both teams coming from South Ontario. They meet each year as part of the Labour Day Classic and, to date, it’s the Tiger Cats who have the upper hand, or should it be paw? In 51 meetings they’ve won 36 times.

Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks

Another Labour Day match-up that also follows a rivalry between the cities’ hockey teams is more evenly-matched. As of the 2022 meeting, the scores are equal at 30 victories apiece. But barring a draw in the 2023 encounter one or the other team is going to go into the lead in 2023.

Of course, there are other rivalries played out each season including between the Alouettes and the Rough Riders, but none carry the same strength of feeling as these. And, for fans who get caught up in the action, long may these friendly feuds live on.

Continue the CFL Football discussions on our offical CFL Discord Channel
author avatar
Priyanka Chaudhary
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in CFL News

CFL News Hub