CFL: Global DL Tibo Debaille makes history in BC Lions’ Sunday opener in Toronto

By Matt Baker

It will go down as a loss to kick off the BC Lions’ 2024 campaign, but with it came a pretty cool historical nugget courtesy the Belgian Express, Tibo Debaillie. As confirmed by Lions’ historian and CFL information and analytics caretaker Steve Daniel, Debaillie’s second quarter fumble return touchdown was the first ever major for a CFL Global player.

Debaillie scooped up a fumble courtesy a strip sack from Josh Archibald and took it back 20 yards to the house. The major momentum swing gave the Lions a 20-6 lead as part of a frantic second quarter. Although the squad would wind up losing a back and forth affair at BMO Field, Debaillie will forever be the answer to a pretty cool trivia question. Even if it comes on a night where they were on the other end of the scoreboard.

“It’s cool to get the touchdown, but at the end of the day, I only care about the win,” said a bittersweet Debaillie after the loss.

Dubbed CFL 2.0, the league’s Global initiative has admittedly been a crapshoot and a sometimes tedious process. Take the Lions for example. Their two most productive Global players in the last five years have been Debaillie (Belgium) and linebacker Maxime Rouyer (France), both brought in via free agency after their original team in Edmonton deemed them expendable. The Lions also have punter Carl Meyer (South Africa) in the fold on their practice roster.

If future plays and takeaways lead to wins, the pride of Belgium will be all for it.

“We’ve got to be able to plug our gaps better, stop the run. For us a front seven, they had too many rushing yards,” added Debaillie. “We take pride in stopping the run and we didn’t really do that to the best of our abilities today. You want to play your best football against the best guys. That’s what we practice for every single day and workout for.”

A round three selection of Edmonton in the 2021 Global Draft, the Towson University product appeared in three games with the green and gold that year before being snapped up by the Lions ahead of 2022, a season in which he broke out with 20 defensive tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery in 18 regular season contests. His production in 2023 included 14 defensive tackles and a fumble recovery in the defensive line rotation.

Once the sting of the Toronto loss subsides, he can no doubt take pride in being a Global touchdown trailblazer.

Matt Baker: [email protected]

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