Lacrosse is a minority sport in Australia. It has a long and proud history dating back to 1876, with a small but dedicated community of participants and volunteers. The established centres for the game are in the greater metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. In these cities there are organised Saturday field lacrosse competitions for men and women at senior and junior levels, played over the winter months (April until September). In the off-season, there are informal box lacrosse and sofcrosse competitions, though the majority of players in Australia are foremostly of the field lacrosse type. Some lacrosse is also played in Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart, although it is very much at the developmental level.
Lacrosse in Australia is now governed by a single governing body, the Australian Lacrosse Association (ALA), following the merger of Lacrosse Australia and Women’s Lacrosse Australia, who had until 2008 governed the men’s and women’s versions of the games independently.
Lacrosse in Australia Today
At present, the main centres for lacrosse are in Melbourne (Victoria), Adelaide (South Australia) and Perth (Western Australia), with each city hosting multi-division club competitions in their respective metropolitan areas. Each of these cities have State League competitions for both men and women, which attract overseas players (the majority from the United States) who are hosted by local clubs to help strengthen their teams as well as develop junior lacrosse programs. The majority of teams, both senior and junior, in lacrosse competition throughout Australia are club teams, with a small few school and university teams that participate in club competition.
Interstate competition, a legacy from the time when Australia consisted of its separate colonies, is a feature of many sports in Australia, lacrosse being no exception. Competitions are typically held as an annual week-long carnival, with the venue rotated between states. The “Nationals” are a highlight of the Australian lacrosse calendar, and feature the best lacrosse talent in the country with games played to a very high standard.
The first game between South Australia and Victoria occurred in 1887. In 1888 Victoria defeated South Australia 5 – 1 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In 1910 the first Australian interstate lacrosse carnival was held at the MCG.
At the senior, under 19 and under 17 age level, each state sends its select representative team. At under 15 level, a national tournament exists whereby member states send anywhere between one and three representative teams, in an effort to level out the competition between stronger and developing lacrosse regions. At present there are national carnivals at the senior men, senior women, under 21 women, under 19 men, under 17 boys, under 17 girls, under 15 boys and under 15 girls levels. Often a number of these events are held concurrently at the same venue.
The Australian Lacrosse League was introduced in 2004 to replace the senior men’s national carnival by instead having state teams play each other twice, with double-headers (a Saturday and Sunday game) played over three weekends. Each state hosts one double-header and travels for the other. The two teams with the best win/loss record over the round-robin tournament progress to the final, played on the weekend following the last round-robin match. Currently, the strongest lacrosse-playing states of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia compete in the ALL, but the long-term goal of the league is to include a team from every Australian state. After four years, however, a lack of support from South Australia and Victoria due to the increasing cost of participating the ALL-style competition saw the national championship revert to the traditional carnival format in 2008.
The first Australian Club Lacrosse Championships was contested in Adelaide on 7 June 2008. The women’s championship was won by the Newport Ladies’ Lacrosse Club of Victoria, while the men’s championship was won by the Woodville Lacrosse Club of South Australia. The success of the inaugural event has led to the club national championships returning in 2009 with an expanded format, involving the premiers of the three major lacrosse playing states, plus a wildcard entry from one of those states to create a final four format. The 2010 Championships were held on 12 June 2010, where the Brighton Lacrosse Club (SA) won both the men’s and women’s championships.
LV’s Development Officer, Kristen Stone, was invited to join the Sports Desk at SYN Radio to give an interview about Lacrosse. Follow the link http://syn.org.au/program/sports-desk/episode/audio/2013/02/25/kristen-stone-iv/10353 to listen to the full podcast!
Australia in international competition
In 1907 Australia’s first international lacrosse match against Canada was played at the MCG before a crowd of 30,000.
Australia has an important presence in the international scene, consistently finishing in the top three of the men’s world championships. Although they have never won the trophy, they finished third in the last four world championships including most recently in 2010 (behind the United States and Canada). They have also been the runner-up at the first three Under-19 Men’s World Lacrosse Championship.
Australia’s national women’s teams have fared even better. Despite having only a small fraction of the playing pool of other countries, Australia have won two senior women’s world championships (in 1986 and in 2005), as well as the inaugural Under 19 world championship in 1995. The main rival to Australia in international women’s competition is the United States.
This information from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacrosse_in_Australia