U Sports football

U Sports football is the highest level of amateur play of Canadian football and operates under the auspices of U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Twenty-seven teams from Canadian universities are divided into four athletic conferences, drawing from the four regional associations of U Sports: Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, and Atlantic University Sport. At the end of every season, the champions of each conference advance to semifinal bowl games; the winners of these meet in the Vanier Cup national championship.

U Sports football
Current season, competition or edition:
2019 U Sports football season
FormerlyCIAU football, CIS football
SportCanadian football
No. of teams27, in four conferences
Most recent
Calgary Dinos
Most titlesLaval Rouge et Or (10)
TV partner(s)Sportsnet/CHCH TV (in English)
TVA Sports (in French)
Vanier Cup
Official websiteen.usports.ca/sports/fball/index

The origins of North American football can be traced here, where the first documented game was played at University College at the University of Toronto in 1861. A number of U Sports programs have been in existence since the origins of the sport. It is from these Canadian universities that the game now known as Canadian football began. In 1874, McGill University (Montreal) challenged Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) to a series of games.

The Grey Cup, the championship trophy of the professional Canadian Football League (CFL) since its founding in the 1950s, was originally contested by teams from the University of Toronto and Queen's University and other amateur teams since 1909. Many U Sports players have gone on to professional careers in the CFL and elsewhere; a number are drafted annually in the Canadian College Draft. In 2019, there were a record 208 U Sports alumni on CFL rosters, including at least one player from each of the 27 football programs.[1]

Season structure

Regular season

The regular season is nine to ten weeks long, depending on the conference, and, as of 2019, opens on the weekend before the Labour Day weekend. Teams play eight regular season games and regular season games are in-conference with exhibition (pre-season) games being played between conferences. Throughout the season, there are featured homecoming and rivalry games in most regions. Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Hec Crighton Trophy is awarded annually to the Most Valuable Player of U Sports football.


After the regular season, single elimination playoff games are held between the top teams in each conference to determine conference champions. In the Atlantic conference, the top three teams qualify for the playoffs with the first place team receiving a bye. In the Canada West and Quebec conferences, the top four teams qualify for the playoffs. In Ontario, the top six teams qualify with the top two teams receiving playoff byes to the next round. Because the OUA teams have conference playoffs that last three weeks instead of two, the first round of the post-season in the OUA occurs during the same week that each of the other three conferences are playing their last regular season games. Each conference has its own championship trophy; the Hardy Trophy in the West, the Yates Cup in Ontario, the Dunsmore Cup in Quebec and the Jewett Trophy in the Atlantic conference. The conference champions proceed to national semifinal bowl games: the Mitchell Bowl and the Uteck Bowl. The participant conferences of each bowl are determined several years in advance on a rotating basis.

Vanier Cup

The winners of each bowl game meet in the Vanier Cup national championship, first established in 1965 and named in honour of Governor General Georges Vanier. The game was held in Toronto every year through 2003 when host conference bids were first accepted, yielding a move to Hamilton for 2004 and 2005, followed by Saskatoon in 2006. Quebec City, Vancouver, and Montreal have since hosted Vanier Cup games.


There have been efforts at establishing new varsity football programs at institutions that currently do not have teams. A group of alumni from Carleton University in Ottawa successfully revived that school's program which returned in 2013. The team is a member of the Ontario University Athletics conference of U Sports, returning football to Carleton University after a 15-year absence.[2]

Because the AUS is the smallest conference in U Sports, there has been talk of adding more teams there, as well. There has been interest expressed in starting a team at the Université de Moncton, due to the recent construction of Moncton Stadium.[3] As of May 2011, the athletics department submitted a feasibility report to the school's president and are going to base a large part of their decision upon how the Uteck Bowl in 2011 is received by the fans in Moncton.[4] Additionally, a club team league, the Atlantic Football League, features four universities in what some hope will lead to varsity teams featured at some of these schools.[5][6]

Following their successful application to become full-members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, the UBC Okanagan Heat are investigating the feasibility of starting their own football program, likely to be partnered with the existing CJFL's Okanagan Sun.[7] UBCO would host the Sun in much the same way that the University of Regina was paired with the Prairie Football Conference's Regina Rams.

The University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières were also exploring the possibility of adding a football program with the launch planned for the 2017 season.[8] The program would have been similar to Carleton University's in that there would be private funding from football alumni, but operated by shareholders.[9] As of April 2015, $800,000 of the required $3 million had been raised in support of the varsity sport at UQTR.[10] The capacity of the football stadium would then be increased from 2000 to 6270 seats.[9] The UQTR Patriotes previously fielded a senior varsity team from 1971 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979.[11][12]

Proposed interconference consortium

In February 2015, businessman David Dube (an alumnus and supporter of the Saskatchewan Huskies) and Jim Mullin announced a proposal for a consortium known as the "Northern 8", which would organize interconference games between its member schools. Dube felt that this plan could help improve the prominence of CIS football on a national basis outside of the post-season (which, as of the 2014 season, was the only period of the season that featured nationally televised CIS games), as it would allow a nationally televised package of regular season games to be sold to a major broadcaster. The Northern 8 would be structured as a non-profit corporation, and would subsidize production costs for its telecasts: profits would be distributed to non-member schools. It would start with 8 teams, but could expand to 10 in the future. The Canada West conference backed the proposal. The OUA, RSEQ and AUS showed concerns for the plan due to travel costs and its effects on standings and rejected the plan.[13][14]


Canada West Football Conference
Hardy Trophy
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Hardy Trophies Vanier Cups
University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Vancouver BC 1923 Blake Nill 49,166 $1.3B Thunderbird Stadium 3,500 16 4
University of Calgary Dinos Calgary AB 1964 Wayne Harris Jr. 30,900 $790.6M McMahon Stadium 35,650 18 5
University of Alberta Golden Bears Edmonton AB 1910 Chris Morris 39,312 $1.0B Foote Field 3,500 18 3
University of Saskatchewan Huskies Saskatoon SK 1912 Scott Flory 21,168 $214M Griffiths Stadium 6,171 20 3
University of Regina Rams Regina SK 1999 Stephen Bryce 12,270 $25.9M Mosaic Stadium 33,350 1 0
University of Manitoba Bisons Winnipeg MB 1920 Brian Dobie 28,335 $424M IG Field 33,422 12 3
Ontario University Athletics
Yates Cup
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Yates Cups Vanier Cups
University of Windsor Lancers Windsor ON 1968 Jean-Paul Circelli 13,610 $110.8M South Campus Stadium 2,000 1 0
University of Western Ontario Mustangs London ON 1929 Greg Marshall 35,952 $685M TD Stadium 8,000 32 7
University of Waterloo Warriors Waterloo ON 1957 Chris Bertoia 31,362 $311.2M Warrior Field 5,200 2 0
Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks Waterloo ON 1961 Michael Faulds 20,151 $71.6M University Stadium 6,000 7 2
University of Guelph Gryphons Guelph ON 1950 Ryan Sheahan 27,048 $308.9M Alumni Stadium 4,100 4 1
McMaster University Marauders Hamilton ON 1901 Stefan Ptaszek 29,411 $609M Ron Joyce Stadium 6,000 8 1
University of Toronto Varsity Blues Toronto ON 1877 Greg Marshall 73,185 $1.88B Varsity Stadium 5,000 25 2
York University Lions Toronto ON 1969 Warren Craney 55,000 $439M York Stadium 2,500 0 0
Queen's University Gaels Kingston ON 1882 Steve Snyder 24,582 $1.04B Richardson Stadium 8,000 23 4
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees Ottawa ON 1881 Jamie Barresi 42,587 $233.9M Gee-Gees Field 4,152 4 2
Carleton University Ravens Ottawa ON 1945 Steve Sumarah 31,202 $270.6M MNP Park 3,500 0 0
Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec
Dunsmore Cup
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Dunsmore Cups Vanier Cups
Concordia University Stingers Montreal QC 1974 Brad Collinson 38,809 $136.7M Concordia Stadium 4,000 3 0
Université de Montréal Carabins Montreal QC 2002 Danny Maciocia 55,540 $276.5M CEPSUM 5,100 3 1
McGill University McGill Montreal QC 1898 Ronald Hilaire 39,497 $1.45B Molson Stadium 23,420 3 1
Université Laval Rouge et Or Quebec City QC 1996 Glen Constantin 37,591 $108.3M Stade Telus 12,817 15 10
Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or Sherbrooke QC 1971 Mathieu Lecompte 35,000 --- Stade de l'Université de Sherbrooke 3,359 0 0
Atlantic University Football Conference
Jewett Trophy
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Jewett Trophies Vanier Cups
Bishop's University Gaiters Sherbrooke QC 1884 Chérif Nicolas 1,817 $32.5M Coulter Field 2,200 0 0
Mount Allison University Mounties Sackville NB 1955 Peter Fraser 2,694 $110M MacAulay Field 2,500 6 0
Acadia University Axemen Wolfville NS 1957 Jeff Cummins 4,358 $96M Raymond Field 3,000 15 2
Saint Mary's University Huskies Halifax NS 1956 James Colzie III 7,586 $52.9M Huskies Stadium 4,000 24 3
Saint Francis Xavier University X-Men Antigonish NS 1954 Gary Waterman 5,158 $100M Oland Stadium 4,000 13 1

Awards and the annual All-Canadian Team

There are post-season awards for on-the-field excellence. The players deemed to be the best at each position are named to the annual All-Canadian Football Team as first or second team players.

Additionally there are a number of individual awards for categories like "best defensive player".

Professional advancement

U Sports players in the CFL

Many players from U Sports football have become professional athletes with most of them playing in the Canadian Football League. Opening Day of the 2015 CFL season saw a record 199 U Sports football players on rosters around the League.[15] The most recent CFL season, 2019, featured 208 former U Sports football players on CFL teams' rosters on opening day.[1]

CFL Draft

The following is a list of recent numbers from the CFL Draft, which is an annual eight-round event with a current maximum of 72 players drafted. From 1997 to 2012 the CFL Draft had six rounds of selections and from 2013 to 2015 it had seven rounds. From 2002 to 2005, the CFL had nine teams, then reverted to eight teams from 2006 to 2013, and then was back to its current number of nine teams in 2014. The high-water mark of 59 players from the U Sports drafted was recorded in the 2014 CFL Draft, which was the most since 1978.

YearPicksU Picks1st RndHighestPositionSchool
200553335Miguel RobedeDefensive endLaval Rouge et Or
200650265Jay PottingerLinebackerMcMaster Marauders
200747315Chris BaumanWide receiverRegina Rams
200848334Dylan BarkerDefensive backSaskatchewan Huskies
200948387Simeon RottierOffensive tackleAlberta Golden Bears
201047364Shomari WilliamsLinebackerQueen's Gaels
201147344Henoc MuambaLinebackerSt. Francis Xavier X-Men
201245243Ben HeenanOffensive linemanSaskatchewan Huskies
201360444Linden GaydoshDefensive tackleCalgary Dinos
201465598Pierre LavertuOffensive linemanLaval Rouge et Or
201562447Sukh ChunghOffensive linemanCalgary Dinos
201670534Philippe GagnonOffensive linemanLaval Rouge et Or
201771566Daniel VandervoortWide receiverMcMaster Marauders
201869564Mark KorteOffensive linemanAlberta Golden Bears
201973522Jesse GibbonOffensive linemanWaterloo

U Sports players in the NFL

As of 2019, U Sports had produced 36 players who have earned a spot on an NFL roster (including four who did not play a regular season game; players listed in chronological order by entry year in NFL):

NFL Draft

There have been 12 U Sports players drafted into the National Football League with David Onyemata being the most recent.[18]

YearRoundPickNFL TeamPlayerPositionSchool
19768234Washington RedskinsBrian FryerWide receiverAlberta Golden Bears
197911280Baltimore ColtsJohn PriestnerLinebackerWestern Mustangs
198212333Cincinnati BengalsDan FeradayQuarterbackToronto Varsity Blues
1986123Los Angeles RamsMike SchadOffensive guardQueen's Golden Gaels
19929239Phoenix CardinalsTyrone WilliamsWide receiverWestern Mustangs
19957237San Diego ChargersMark MontreuilCornerbackConcordia Stingers
1998232Indianapolis ColtsJerome PathonWide receiverAcadia Axemen
20017241Jacksonville JaguarsRandy ChevrierDefensive endMcGill Redmen
20094113San Diego ChargersVaughn MartinDefensive endWestern Mustangs
2012389New Orleans SaintsAkiem HicksDefensive endRegina Rams
20146200Kansas City ChiefsLaurent Duvernay-TardifOffensive tackleMcGill Redmen
20164120New Orleans SaintsDavid OnyemataDefensive linemanManitoba Bisons

See also


  1. "Four McGillians among record 208 U SPORTS alumni on CFL opening day rosters". June 12, 2019.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2011-07-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Carleton football veteran celebrates team’s revival
  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/07/26/nb-iaaf-games-moncton-legacy-610.html University ponders legacy after IAAF games
  4. http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/sports/article/1402895 U de M continues to study viability of university football
  5. http://dalnews.dal.ca/2010/03/22/football.html Pigskin promise
  6. "RedBombers.com is available at DomainMarket.com". RedBombers.com is available at DomainMarket.com.
  7. Sports (9 May 2013). "UBC Okanagan makes the grade with Canada West". Kelowna Capital News.
  8. A new university team from 2017
  9. ICI.Radio-Canada.ca, Zone Sports-. "Le retour d'une équipe de football universitaire à l'UQTR?". Radio-Canada.ca.
  10. "Les Patriotes de l'UQTR revivront". TVA Sports.
  11. "CISFOOTBALL.ORG : The home for fans of Canadian University Football". www.cisfootball.org.
  12. "CIS Helmet History: UQTR Patriotes".
  13. "Is CIS football 'super league' in the works?". TSN.ca. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  14. "Dube still chasing national university football series". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  15. "199 CIS grads on CFL opening-day rosters - U Sports - English". en.usports.ca. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  16. "Antony Auclair".
  17. "Chargers Promote CB Tevaughn Campbell to Active Roster". Chargers.com. October 29, 2019.
  18. "Manitoba's Onyemata becomes 12th CIS player drafted into NFL - U SPORTS - English". presto-en.usports.ca.
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