Are you a lacrosse player excited to learn more about the sport Down Under? If so, you're in luck – some fantastic developments are happening in lacrosse in Australia these days!
From rising participation numbers and new tournaments to changes that level up the game for all players, this is an exciting time for lovers of the sport.
To help capture the energy around Aus Lax today, here's our roundup of 2023's most thrilling facts about Australian lacrosse.
Take Away Key Points:
Table of Contents
- Lacrosse in Australia: A Wholesome Guide for All Players
Lacrosse in Australia: A Wholesome Guide for All Players
1. Evolution of lacrosse in Australia
Lacrosse is a secondary port in Australia, yet it has a long and proud history dating back to 1876. Lacrosse made the first steps within a small but dedicated community of volunteers, lacrosse members, and participants.
The primary centers for playing lacrosse are located in the greater metropolitan areas of Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne. These centers offer field lacrosse competitions over the weekends, in men's lacrosse and women's lacrosse at senior and junior levels. Lacrosse players are active during the winter months of April to September.
During the off-season, informal games are played in sofcrosse and box lacrosse competitions. However, most lacrosse players in Australia are of the field lacrosse type. Some lacrosse is also played in Canberra, Bendigo, Ballarat, Sydney, and South East Queensland, which are the fastest-developing lacrosse regions.
Lacrosse Australia - LA is the main governing body of lacrosse in Australia starting in 2021. Formerly, the association was known as Australian Lacrosse Association. The organization merged with Lacrosse Australia and Women's Lacrosse Australia.
The former governing body was responsible for men's lacrosse and women's lacrosse independence. The unification into one national body was due to the refusal of the Australian federal government to fund the organization for new lacrosse opportunities.
2. The history of men's lacrosse Australia
The strongest lacrosse-playing states in Australia include:
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- New South Wales
Let's dive into the history of each state.
Lambton L. Mount was a pioneer of lacrosse in Victoria (and wholesome Australia) when he came in the nineteenth century.
In 1876, he ordered forty lacrosse sticks and intended to establish the Melbourne lacrosse club and organized the first practice match.
By 1879, four lacrosse clubs were formed and had more than 120 lacrosse players.
The four clubs, including Fitzroy, South Melbourne club, Melbourne club, and Carlton, formed the Victorian Lacrosse Association in July 1879 to coordinate matches.
b. South Australia
When the Adelaide lacrosse club was established in 1883, the sport of lacrosse began in South Australia.
The South Australian Lacrosse Association was formed in 1888, and 1889 professor Bragg founded the University in 1889. He also founded the North Adelaide lacrosse club.
Next to the Adelaide lacrosse club, there were two other teams to join the lacrosse association. So finally, lacrosse talent became widely recognized, and the game had more and more club teams and various lacrosse opportunities to prove their worth in the state.
c. South Australian Lacrosse Association
Founded in 1888, SALA is dedicated to developing, promoting, and governing the sport. The organization provides guidance and training to both players and officials while fostering enjoyment, respect, and safety among its members.
In addition, it offers Elite Performance training for young athletes and hosts several regional tournaments each year.
Further, SALA actively supports junior athletes at the state level, ensuring their participation in advancement programs such as athletic development camps, pre-season skill clinics, and school lacrosse competitions.
In addition to its administrative tasks, SALA encourages community engagement with fairer pricing for local clubs and generous grants for hosting major events.
Consequently, SALA continues to be a big influence in furthering the exposure lacrosse receives in South Australia and throughout the country.
d. Western Australia
The first two lacrosse clubs were formed in 1896 - Fremantle and Perth. In 1897, two additional lacrosse club teams were formed - Cottesloe and Mercantile.
In 1898 a formal lacrosse competition took its place among the local clubs, and Mercantile won the first premiership, making Western Australia compete with other respectful states.
All these lacrosse teams played lacrosse under the Eastern Goldfield Lacrosse Association. However, the governing body ceased to exist during WWI, and they were re-established in 1935 after the Great Depression. But, after WWII, the attempts to re-establish the association were fruitless.
The Queensland Lacrosse Union was established in 1888, including three Queensland lacrosse club teams.
The most popular was the Savage Lacrosse Club, but Queensland defeated Victoria in the interstate games in 1906. However, the two teams were also successful in their lacrosse career.
Before WWII, there were numerous lacrosse club representative teams in Queensland, including the Brisbane lacrosse club, the Kalinga lacrosse club, the Nudgee lacrosse club, and similar lacrosse clubs.
However, after WWII and by the 198ss, all existing clubs had disappeared.
The Queensland Lacrosse Association operated with the Victorian and the local lacrosse club competition.
f. New South Wales lacrosse
Lacrosse in South Wales became the official sport in 1883 when the Sydney lacrosse club was formed.
Lacrosse games took place at the Sydney cricket ground in 1930, and the NSW lacrosse club existed simultaneously.
Various Canadian teams were visiting Australian lacrosse teams in 1934. Before WWII, the teams were part of the Lasseter's Cup, divided into A and B divisions. In 1909, the Broken Hill Lacrosse Association was established, including the YCMA lacrosse club.
However, in the 1990s, lacrosse was revived by a small group of men and women. These included men's teams, women's lacrosse teams, and junior lacrosse programs, but they played modified lacrosse. Many of them went to play the regular games later.
Lacrosse in Tasmania began with the establishment of the New Town lacrosse club in the mid-1880s. These clubs entered the competitions among states, but the Tasmanian lacrosse association disbanded in 916 since men went to the war.
The situation worsened even more due to WWII, and all leagues ceased to exist.
3. Women's Lacrosse Australia
As with the men's lacrosse version, women's lacrosse in Australia also has a long and rich tradition.
a. Pre-war activities
The sport's history began in 1904 when Gwyneth Morris presented the game as part of the school's commitment to team sports.
The first Australian women's lacrosse team was established during that period. In 1907, there were various women's lacrosse teams in Western Australia and other parts of the country.
The first lacrosse club was formed in 1913 in NSW, and by 1914 there were four clubs, but due to WWI, the competitions stopped their commitment and ceased to exist after the Great War.
The South Australia Lacrosse Association discussed the inclusion of the women's lacrosse teams into the union in 1931.
The Victorian Women's Amateur Lacrosse Association was established in 1936 but went into recession due to WWII.
The lacrosse commitment in women's lacrosse again started in 1962.
The South Australian Women's Lacrosse Association was formed during that period and the first women's championship also began during this period.
The Men's Lacrosse carnival took place in Perth in 1965.
The AWLC and Western Australia were invited to play their annual interstate match between South Australia and Victoria during the carnival.
The Western Australians had to establish their Association and join the AWLC simultaneously. They also entered the first Women's Lacrosse Championship.
c. Further development
The Tasmanian Women's Lacrosse Association was formed in 1975 in Hobart. In 1978, Tasmania became a full member of the AWLC. In addition, the club entered its first official team in the 1978 Championships in Perth.
The Senior National Championships have occurred every year since 1978, with South Australia reigning supreme from 1985 to 1996. That year Victoria defeated them for the first time in the final. They ended a twelve-year consequential victory by South Australia.
The first Under 16 National Championship took place in 1960, while the first U19 interstate match was played in 1982 between Victoria and South Australia at the Senior Nationals in Adelaide.
4. Australia playing lacrosse today
Since its beginnings, lacrosse has undergone significant changes to become one of the official sports in Australia.
Popularity is still growing today thanks to various tournaments and championships.
a. Local competitions
The main centers for lacrosse are in Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne, and each city hosts multi-division club competitions in respective metropolitan areas.
Each city provides State League competitions for both men and women, which attract overseas players, hosted by local teams to develop junior lacrosse programs and reinforce their teams.
Most of the teams - juniors and seniors who play lacrosse in competitions are clubs, with a few school and university teams participating in club competitions.
b. Interstate competition
Interstate competition is held as an annual week-long carnival.
The "Nationals" is the main part of the Australian lacrosse calendar, featuring the best lacrosse talent and advanced performance.
The first Interstate match in Australia took place in Brisbane in 1887. In 1888 Victoria defeated South Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The first Australian interstate lacrosse carnival took place in 1910.
Each state has its selected team in senior and under-18 age level. At the under-15 level, the national tournament exists with one to three teams, but also stronger and more advanced teams. Australia has national carnivals in the senior, under-15, and under-18 categories for both men and women.
In 2004 the Australian Lacrosse League was founded and replaced the senior men's national carnival. Instead of having state teams play each other twice - a Saturday and Sunday game, the game was played over three weekends. Each state would select a representative team for one double-header and travels for the other. These two teams with the best win-loss record over the round-robin tournament progress further to the final and play the last round-robin match.
The strongest lacrosse-playing states include SA, WA, and Victoria. However, the main goal is to have a team from all Australian states. But a lack of support from Victoria and SA saw the national championship revert to the traditional carnival format in 2008.
c. Australian Club lacrosse championships
The first Australian Club Lacrosse Championships took place in Adelaide in 2008. The Newport Ladies' Lacrosse Club won the club's national championships. The Woodville Lacrosse Club won the men's games.
The inaugural event in 2009 led to the Club's national championships returning in an expanded form. It included the final four formats. The 2013 Championships were held off-season but successfully.
d. Australia in international competition
In 1907 Australia's first game against Canada was played at the MCG before 14,000 spectators. But, unfortunately, they did not win the international lacrosse match.
Australia finished outside the top three at the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship. The team has also been the second at the Under-19 Men's World Lacrosse Championships.
Australia's national women's teams have fared even better. They are part of the Australian Women's lacrosse council. Although teams have only a small fraction of the playing pool of other countries, they won two senior women's world championships in 1986 and 2005 and the Under-19 world championship in 1995. The USA is the main rival to Australia in the international women's competition.
The World Men's Lacrosse Championship took place in 1974, 1990, and 2002. The Women's Lacrosse World Cup took place in 1998 in Australia.
5. Australian lacrosse GOATs
Australian lacrosse has produced some of the best players in the world, and many of them owe their success to a rich history of involvement in this fast-paced sport.
The names at the top of this illustrious list include Olympian Mitchell White, veteran goaltender David Stoddard, former World Cup powerhouse Sabina Planicka, and All-Australian superstar Zach Pettigrew – all players who have exerted an influence on Australian lacrosse as well as left an indelible mark on the game.
Is lacrosse popular in Australia?
No, it's a minor sport in Australia.
What is Australia's No 1 sport?
The number one sport is Australia Rules Football.
Although not as popular as other sports, lacrosse in Australia is still a significant sport with many passionate players and supporters. It has a long and competitive tradition that continues to grow, leading to the development of competition and interest from the public.
Lacrosse surely will have a place amongst the great sporting tradition of Australia for years to come.