This year’s Lacrosse World Championship is going on right now in Netanya, Israel, coming to a conclusion with Saturday’s final. But how is the tournament structured? Who’s likely to be taking home the silverware? And why should we care at UEA? Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Lacrosse World Championship.
What are the rules?
Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Not sure I fully understand it myself though. This is the biggest tournament ever, with nearly 50 teams having been split up into a number of coloured groups based on world ranking. The ‘Blue Group’ comprises the current six top ranked teams, sending the top two (probably the USA and Canada) straight into the semi-finals, the next two into the quarter finals and the bottom two into the competition for 5th-8th place. The other groups lead into further knockout matches to fill up the rest of the slots. Phew.
As for the game itself, Men’s Field Lacrosse is an outdoor contact sport where teams of ten with rotating substitutions play four 20-minute quarters with no stoppages (different to the 15 minutes per quarter played in American games which stops when the ball goes out of play). Players aim to use their sticks to score more goals than their opponents with the hard rubber ball, similar in size to a tennis ball. It’s an exciting sport to watch, with certain physical contact permitted and players being required to wear helmets and other protection. Goalkeepers are given larger sticks.
Are the home nations in it?
Yes! England have sent a team, and they’re more than competitive. England are joined by Scotland in the best, Blue Group, while Wales are also participating.
Who’s expected to win, then?
Don’t get too excited about Lacrosse coming home just yet. International Lacrosse has always been dominated by North American sides, with the world-leading USA and 2014 champions Canada expected to be contesting the final again. Another team to watch out for that you might not be familiar with is Iroquois, made up of Native American settlements, who took home the bronze medal last time out. Elsewhere, Australia are also competitive despite losing heavily to the USA, completing the six-strong Blue Group alongside England and Scotland.
Does UEA have any connections?
Yes! Lacrosse is one of the most popular sports on campus with the UEA Eagles sending three teams to compete in BUCS leagues again next year. There are also some more direct links to the tournament…
UEA are represented in Israel by the popular figure of Charlie Albuery, who is currently in Netanya completing an internship at the tournament, doing a variety of jobs to help with the running of the Championship. The defender, and next year’s Men’s club captain, is also playing for a local team while he’s there.
He told Concrete: “It’s been amazing so far. The Lacrosse community is fantastic. I’ve met some interesting people so far. I’ve got to work quite closely with the Phillippines team, hanging out with a national team is so much fun. All the games have been great.
“I’ve got to do some fantastic stuff, like a bit of commentating for ESPN. I’ve been doing scorekeeping and penalties at national level games. The vibe out here is so great, it’s so big on growing the game, and I think it really is going to push Lacrosse up a lot in this part of the world.”
Charlie’s not the only UEA link to the tournament, though. Alumnus Rob Ingham Clark is assistant coach for the Luxembourg team who are competing in their first World Championship. He completed both his undergraduate and MA in Norwich, and is still a popular figure in the club. Ingham Clark was previously head Lacrosse coach at the University of Hertfordshire and he helps out in the Luxembourg setup alongside his current position as head coach of the English Universities team.
Finally, one player expected to be a regular in blue and yellow next season is Kurts Auza. He is supporting his home country of Latvia this summer, having been capped by them at under-18 level.
What about Women’s Lacrosse?
The Women’s World Cup took place last year in Surrey with, surprise surprise, the USA defeating Canada in the final. England came third, ahead of Australia and Scotland. Lacrosse World Cups run in four-year cycles like football, so the next Women’s tournament is scheduled for 2021.
Where can I watch the matches?
ESPN and BT Sport will be screening selected matches from the World Championships including England vs the USA today at 4pm, both semi-finals, the third place play-off and championship match which take place between Thursday and Saturday. It’s included in some TV packages and for a small fee, all matches can be streamed online via ESPN. The small ball makes watching Lacrosse on TV an acquired taste (like the funky music ESPN sometimes play on their live streams in place of TV adverts), but it’s well worth a go.