The game we saw was the annual match between the Concordia University Bumblebees and the McGill University Redmen playing for the Shaughnessy Cup, a game played each year between the two teams at the start of the university football season. 'Our' team was the McGill team. So we joined probably more than 2000 other onlookers to watch this exciting first match.
First, there are 12 players on the field at any one time (11 in American football) and each team has separate offense and defense teams. That explains the whole-team substitution throughout the game! When a team has the ball, they have to move towards their end of the field at least 10 yards in 3 'downs' (4 downs in American football) or else they have to hand over the ball to the opposing team. Downs are like our tackles. The ball has to be passed to another player and caught on the full (a complete pass) for it to be counted towards the 10 yards. If it bounces or is dropped, it's an incomplete pass, and they lose a down and have to start again where the last pass was thrown from. If they make it to 10 yards in three downs, they get another three downs and have to make another 10 yards to continue in the offensive. Those are not all the rules, of course, and there are extra rules about kicking field goals and all that. Whatever, for a beginner, I think I've told you the basics!
Next up? Well, now we've had a taste of what going to a sporting match is like here with university students, I think we should probably see a real match with real spectators (that's what the security attendant recommended anyway), like a game where the Montreal Alouettes are playing. So, in the interests of cultural enrichment, that's what we'll do!