Lacrosse in England

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Lacrosse in England
Official website

Lacrosse in England is an amateur sport played mainly by community based clubs and university teams. Lacrosse was introduced to England in 1876 by William George Beers and other Canadians who toured the country playing exhibition matches. A second tour was arranged in 1883; by then England had 60 clubs playing regular fixtures in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Middlesex and Yorkshire.[1]

The first national governing body for the men's game, the English Lacrosse Union, was formed in 1892. A Ladies' Lacrosse Association followed in 1912, and the separate men's and women's organisations merged in 1996 to form the English Lacrosse Association (ELA). The ELA oversees both the men's and women's national teams.

Men's lacrosse[edit]

Oxford and Cambridge have held Varsity Matches in lacrosse since 1903, playing every year besides the world wars. Oxford leads the series 56-40-5.[2][3]

Club men's lacrosse in Britain is divided into northern and southern leagues, with Flags competitions at the end of each winter season. In addition to the regular 10-a-side season there are other tournaments, such as those at Stockport and Bath, which use a 6-a-side or 8-a-side format and shorter games.[4]

Northern clubs are governed by North of England Men's Lacrosse Association (NEMLA), which was formed in 1897 when 10 clubs began playing regular fixtures. NEMLA now comprises a Premiership and four further Senior Divisions. Southern clubs are governed by South of England Men's Lacrosse Association (SEMLA) and comprises a Premier Division, two West Divisions (including South Wales), and three East Divisions.

The main focus of men's lacrosse popularity in Britain is the North-West of England, around the Greater Manchester area.[5] Greater Manchester has hosted the World Lacrosse Championship in 1978, 1994, and 2010. A second centre is in the South of England, especially around the London area.

Men's lacrosse is a common minority sport in universities, which along with club-based youth programs, provide the majority of newcomers with their first experiences of the sport. In 2008, a men's BUCS league was introduced, providing greater support and recognition to the men's university teams.

Women's lacrosse[edit]

McCrone credits lacrosse's limited popularity with Victorian men for its adoption by many girls' public schools in the 1890s.[6] In 1905 former students from Wycombe Abbey, Roedean and Prior's Field schools formed the first women's lacrosse club in England, the Southern Ladies' Lacrosse Club. The club played against sides from public schools and was captained by Audrey Beaton, an Old Roedeanian.[6] In 1912 Beaton led the establishment of the Ladies' Lacrosse Association, which included school teams; Beaton became honorary secretary and Penelope Lawrence, Roedean headmistress, was its first president.[7]

The LLA expanded rapidly and established a national team in March 1913.[6] A rivalry with hockey developed when some girls' schools replaced hockey with lacrosse, but lacrosse remained a more minor sport.[6]

A close relationship between the LLA and the men's English Lacrosse Union[6] was consolidated with a merger in 1996 to form the English Lacrosse Association. Today, club women's lacrosse is governed by the South East Women's Lacrosse Association (SEWLA), South West Women's Lacrosse Association (SWWLA), and North Women's Lacrosse Association (NWLA).[8][9]


Lacrosse is often introduced to boys and girls with a soft stick and ball version of the game called pop lacrosse. Since 1982, the English Lacrosse Association has brought over one thousand coaches from outside the U.K. to teach young players the game.[10]


England, Scotland and Wales compete as separate teams in international competitions. In the men's 2006 World Lacrosse Championship England finished in 5th place and in the Women's Lacrosse World Cup in 2005, England finished 3rd. In the men's 2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship England finished in 4th place.

In the 2008, 2012 and 2016 European Lacrosse Championships England successfully defended their title in the Men's competition, and came second in the Women's competition

The 2010 World Lacrosse Championships were held in Manchester, England from 16–24 July at the Manchester University Sports Ground, The Armitage Centre.[11][12] The England team finished the tournament in 5th place.


  1. ^ "FIL World Championships Preview: Blue Division - England". Inside Lacrosse. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Lacrosse in Britain". Activity Workshop. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  3. ^ Dalton, Grant (26 February 2017). "101st Varsity Match approaches for Oxford University Lacrosse Club". The Oxford Student Newspaper. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  4. ^ Schmidt, Henning (8 December 2014). "London Calling: Growing English Lacrosse - Lacrosse All Stars". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  5. ^ "BBC - How Manchester took sport of lacrosse to its heart". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e McCrone, Kathleen (1988). Sport and the Physical Emancipation of Women, 1870-1914. London: Routledge. pp. 137–141. ISBN 041500358X.
  7. ^ Doughan, David; Gordon, Peter (2007). Women, Clubs and Associations in Britain. London: Routledge. p. 76. ISBN 113420437X.
  8. ^ "Fixtures & Results". English Lacrosse Association. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  9. ^ Fisher, Donald M. (14 March 2002). "Lacrosse: A History of the Game". JHU Press. Retrieved 9 December 2016 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Sanghani, Radhika (6 August 2015). "#SOSLacrosse: Women fighting for 78 lacrosse coaches to be allowed into UK". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Why the tribe who invented lacrosse can't play it here". 14 July 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  12. ^ "The 'other' World Cup comes to Manchester - The University of Manchester". Retrieved 9 December 2016.

External links[edit]