The centenary of World War One this year not only marks a significant anniversary of world war history, but also of the history of lacrosse in both Australia and New Zealand.
In September 1914, New South Wales was set to travel and play New Zealand as a touring team, yet due to the commencement of the war, this game was abandoned. Men’s Lacrosse never recovered in New Zealand and was not played again until it was re-established in 2000.
This ANZAC day, Australia will send women and men’s teams to New Zealand and play commemorative games to mark the milestone of 100 years, at College Rifles in Remuera Auckland.
College Rifles was established in 1897 and is itself named after a military unit, many of whose members fought in the Great War. The Australia and New Zealand Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse teams will be joining the College Rifles Anzac Parade and both rugby and lacrosse will be played over the weekend.
This is much more than a game of Lacrosse. It is, above all, an ANZAC moment, when we turn our thoughts to the sacrifices of the countless men and women who set aside their normal lives and came together to fight for a greater good. We are privileged to be able to play this special game of Lacrosse in their memory. - David Zussman, Manager, New Zealand Men’s National Lacrosse Team
12:00 PM – Women – Australia vs. New Zealand
02:15 PM – Men – Australia vs. New Zealand
11:00 AM – Women U23 – Australia vs. New Zealand
1:00 PM – Men – Australia vs. New Zealand
3:00 PM – Women U19 – Australia vs. New Zealand
Venue: College Rifles, 33 Haast Street, Remuera, Auckland
For information about College Rifles contact Derek Rope.
The Anzac games are part of the preparation of the New Zealand Men’s National Lacrosse Team for the Lacrosse World Championships in Denver, Colorado in July 2014.
A 27 man squad has been selected after extensive trials and training held in Auckland, New Zealand during January 2014.
The team will compete in the prestigious Vail Shootout before playing in the World Championships in Denver, Colorado. 38 teams will be playing in the world championships, including the originators of the game, the Iroquois Nationals. New Zealand is looking to build on the 15th place they achieved in Manchester (England) in 2010.
New Zealand play Argentina, Russia and Wales in group play.
Playing in the Vail Shootout provides a great opportunity to bring the team together in a competitive environment and to acclimatize for Denver which is 1 mile (5280 feet, 1609.3 metres) above sea level.
There are six men’s clubs and four women’s clubs in the Auckland/Waikato region.
Lacrosse is now played in New Zealand high schools as a sanctioned sport in both the men’s and women’s format. There are currently 17 girl’s high school teams and 12 boy’s high school teams participating in the Auckland Schools Lacrosse League.
Lacrosse in New Zealand is a rapidly developing sport with strong growth at junior and youth level, regional growth in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, and representative teams regularly competing in tournaments in Australia.
New Zealand has successfully hosted two Asia Pacific Lacrosse Tournaments (2007 and 2011) and is building its reputation as a competitive Lacrosse playing nation in overseas tournaments.
The Anzac Game is being used by the NZ U19 Women’s Lacrosse Squad as a vital part of preparation for the 2015 World Championships to be held in Edinburgh. New Zealand will be sending an U19 team to their 3rd World Championships having performed well in tournaments in 2007 and 2011. This programme has been enhanced through the development of a strong school’s competition in Auckland and Waikato, giving girls the chance to experience playing lacrosse at younger ages.
Lacrosse was first established in New Zealand in the 1880’s. An initial look through press archives indicates that a team was established in Invercargill in 1885 and one in Dunedin in 1886. It looks like the game was established by ex pats from the UK and Australia – the obituaries from the 1930’s begin to reveal who the founding fathers may have been – Eric Broughton from Manchester (England) via Sydney ( who represented New South Wales), Philip Charles Dickinson Luckie (Auckland Club) , John Francis O’Leary (captain of Wellington) and William Norton also played important roles.
By the beginning of the first world war there were thriving leagues in Auckland and Wellington. Teams such as Ponsonby, Auckland, North Shore and Grafton competed in an Auckland league whilst Columbia, Wellington, Kelburn and Capital competed for the “Proud Cup” with games that were held at the Basin Reserve.
There was general excitement in June 1914 with the planned visit of a touring side from New South Wales that was scheduled to playWellington on 5th September, New Zealand on 12th September and Auckland on either the 16th or 19th September. The excitement included a proposal from the New South Wales Association for the New Zealand sides to come in to line with the Australian rules to allow kicking and use a 51/2 oz ball instead of a 4 ½ oz ball – the suggestion to use a smaller field was rejected for safety reasons.
By August 1914 local and representative matches were being cancelled although it was hoped the New South Wales game could be rescheduled for a years time! On 29 August 1914 the simple and understated message in the New Zealand Herald was:
The Local (Wellington) lacrosse season has been closed and the Proud Cup has been awarded to the Kelburn Club. It is also announced that the proposed visit of the New South Wales lacrosse team to New Zealand has been abandoned, owing to the war
Attempts were made in Wellington in 1920 to revive this ‘ lapsed’ sport but men’s lacrosse was not to be reestablished until 2000 with the beginning of the current league in Auckland.
Obituaries for the “Men who have fallen” included Lacrosse players such as Captain William Alfred Bowring (died 24th September 1916) who played for the Ponsonby Club and was one of the “first to enlist”. He left with the first contingent for Samoa – probably alongisde members of the College Rifles regiment.
The Game that Never was commenorates the 100 years that have passed since the “abandoned” game of 1914. The Men’s and Women’s teams of Australia and New Zealand are proud to be able to join the Anzac parade and commemorations at College Rifles Sports Club in Auckland.