After generating a swell of excitement for the 2020 season which was ultimately cancelled as the organisation declared bankruptcy, the XFL is finally returning and it's bringing a whole new rulebook to play with.
The new rules include innovative changes in the areas of clock management, play reviews and late game possession designed to improve gameplay and enhance the fan viewing experience.
Our innovative rules are the cornerstone of our League and a clear example of our commitment to advance the game. These changes will increase possession and scoring options while remaining true to the spirit of the game.
Russ Brandon (XFL President)
Popular rule innovations such as tiered extra points and double forward passes will carry over from the 2020 season. Teams will also continue to line up five yards apart on kickoffs, as they did in 2020, which resulted in fewer injuries and a 92% return rate.
Among the new game enhancements is an extra possession option, where in addition to an onside kick at any point during the game, teams may now attempt to retain possession by converting a 4th and 15 play from their own 25-yard line in the fourth quarter only.
This season the XFL is also introducing a first-of-its-kind, centralized ‘command center’ for instant replay review and officiating led by Dean Blandino, Vice President of Officiating and Playing Rules Innovation. The fully cloud-based instant replay program offers live integration during replay reviews and oversight of officiating discrepancies during all 43 XFL games.
Below are some of the XFL’s key new rules and modifications from 2020:
Clock will start following incomplete passes and out of bounds plays prior to two-minute warning of either half
Clock will stop following first downs after two-minute warning of either half
Play clock increased from 25 to 35 seconds*
Timeouts increased from 2 to 3 per team per half*
The XFL will operate with a 35-second play clock
No coin toss, no one-possession wins, no ties
Consists of alternating attempts from opponent’s 5-yard line
Three attempts per team (two points per score) or until winner is decided*
Keeping the Ball
Two options to keep the ball after scoring
Traditional onside kick (any time during game)
4th and 15 conversion from own 25-yard line (4th quarter only)*
Head coach allowed one challenge of any officiating decision once per game, with final ruling made by designated members of the officiating department in a central location (never been done before at any level)*
Replay may correct obvious errors on non-reviewable plays, player safety at any point during the game, and any issue that significantly impacts the outcome of the game in the last five minutes of regulation plus overtime
Kicking team and return team start play five yards apar
Eliminates high-speed collisions and enhances player safety
More returns, less touchbacks
92% kick off returns in XFL 2.0 compared to 39.6% in the NF Average XFL drive started at the 29-yard line compared to the 25-yard line in the NFL
Tiered extra points are back
Teams will have three options for extra points following a touchdown
2-yard line = one point; 5-yard line = two points; 10-yard line = three points
Replaces the traditional kick, providing teams a chance to score more points and build excitement within the game.
These new rules look to create a unique viewing experience for the 2023 season that will separate the XFL from the NFL, giving football fanatics around the world year-round entertainment.
The league is still much smaller than it's predecessor - with just 8 XFL teams competing against each other - but 10 games have already been scheduled in the lead up to the XFL Playoffs at the end of April.
You can check the full 2023 XFL regular season schedule here - 2023 League Schedule (xfl.com).