Activity Workshop
 

Lacrosse World Championships 2010

Men's World Championships, Manchester, England, July 2010

Location map
Games played: 101    Number of goals: 2062    Average score: 14 - 6

The 2010 World Championships took place from July 15th to July 24th in Manchester, England. The location was the sports grounds of Manchester University called the "Armitage Centre" in Fallowfield, south Manchester. This is also known as "the Firs" and can be found on Moseley Road, M14 6HE. For a map of the area see openstreetmap.org.

In the recent football world cup, we saw 145 goals in 64 mostly dreary games. The lacrosse world cup exceeded this goal tally after less than two days and only 8 games!

The best sources of latest scores are the wikipedia page and the official FIL results page (website no longer there). There's also a complete but unofficial results summary from lakroska.cz which has all the results while the official server has a little lie down.

The Teams

This year, an expected 30 nations were to take part in the competitions, divided this time into seven divisions. The winning teams in each division got a play-in opportunity against the top teams from the blue division, to determine who goes to the semi finals. The final game was then played on July 24th 2010.

The top, blue division is unchanged from the 2006 championships (ordering shown here based on the final ranking from 2006). The players in these blue division teams are listed on the teams page. The other divisions contain four teams each:

Note that the lineup had to be changed due to the passports farce. It appears that Germany (not Ireland as earlier reported) will take the Iroquois Nations' place in the blue division, and the Iroquois (if they manage to get there) will take Germany's place in the "Plum" division. Except the Iroquois apparently won't be coming at all now so I guess they'll have to forfeit their matches in the Plum division too. Who would have thought that Spain would get a win over the Iroquois in this tournament?

Blue Division

Canada
USA
Australia
England
Japan
Iroquois Germany

Orange Division

Ireland
South Korea
Slovakia *
Switzerland *

Plum Division

Germany
Spain
Hong Kong
Norway *

Yellow Division

Finland
Denmark
Bermuda
Poland *

Red Division

Italy
Czech Republic
Sweden
Mexico *

Turquoise Division

Scotland
Latvia
New Zealand
France *

Grey Division

Netherlands
Wales
Argentina *
Austria *

A * marks teams who are new to the competition this year.

It's interesting to note that apart from the top 6 teams from the last championship, which are again all in the top blue division, the next 6 finishers from 2006 (Ireland, Germany, Finland, Italy, Scotland and the Netherlands) each take the lead in the next 6 divisions. It seems they don't want to group the teams into different abilities (like second division, third division etc), but instead mix the abilities up into each of the 6 lower divisions. This does make sense to let the stronger teams meet each other later rather than knock each other out straight away, but the risk is that it might make the round robin games more one-sided and therefore less interesting. I can't see Ireland or Germany struggling much in their games, for example.

As to who thought up those colours, good question. "Plum"? "Turquoise"? "Grey"? Did someone get inspiration from Excel's chart colours?

Tickets

Various tickets were on sale, including single day tickets, season tickets and "final four" tickets for the last four days (including the semi-finals and the final itself). "Stadium" tickets covered just the blue division games and finals, and "Venue" tickets covered the other colours on the other pitches.

A 10% surcharge was added to all the quoted ticket prices bought online in advance - typical prices were 22 pounds for a day ticket, or 99 pounds for the final four ticket. For tickets bought on the gate, a different surcharge was added, making a final day ticket cost 45 pounds on the gate.

The pre-tournament farce

The football world cup was surrounded by farce, poor decision-making and controversy. We all hoped that the lacrosse world cup would show how a world championship should be run, with teamwork and skill winning games, not single goals, missed penalties or baffling red card decisions. We all hoped the lacrosse world would do it properly.

Now, on the very eve of the 2010 championships, the stupidity and farce is already threatening to ruin the entire tournament. How can this be? By a ridiculous argument about the travel documents used by the Iroquois Nation to travel to Britain. Now it turns out the whole team are not being allowed to fly to the tournament, meaning that the scheduled opening game between the game's creators and the hosts, won't be able to take place.

Why it took until this late stage to find out there was a problem, why there is until now no backdown from the stubbornness of the British and/or the US authorities, is incredible. What a stain on the tournament before it's even begun.

More on this stupidity at the Independent newspaper, with the blog 2010worldlacrosse.blogspot.com suggesting that Ireland may replace the Iroquois in the blue division. Although who would then take Ireland's place in the Orange division? As of Thursday 15th July, the official line is that the Iroquois still plan to travel, via Amsterdam, but their opening England match will be replaced by an England v Germany exhibition game. There are some more details at the New York Times and a sketchy overview video from WIVB news (youtube video). The final resolution is given by laxmagazine.com, where Iroquois and Germany swap places.

The latest update on the story is that the Iroquois have apparently quit and won't be coming at all. It seems that for them, the cost of accepting US or Canadian passports was just too high. So we have to wait until the third day of the tournament to learn that they're not coming.

What a mess.

The first round

In the first round, each team played each of the other teams from their division once, in a 'round-robin' tournament. For the blue division it looks as follows. These blue division games started at 1:30pm, 4:30pm and 7:30pm.

The opening game between the Iroquois Nations and the hosts England had to be rescheduled due to the farce as described above, and instead England played Germany. The result was a convincing 12-3 win for England, but even after the game had finished there is still doubt what happens to the Iroquois in the Plum division. Bizarre scenes. Anyway, a delighted England coach Dave Elwood praised England's performance, saying "we'd like to play in a semi-final". Whether a 12-3 win against an unprepared Germany team is anything to get that excited about, especially given England's losses in the pre-tournament games, remains to be seen. Only 4-2 up until nearly half-time, sloppy passes and reliance on outside shots, let's just hope it was the rain which affected play. A lot depends on how the Japanese play in this tournament, especially in their England match on the 18th.

As for Germany, they've suddenly (with just a few hours' notice) gone from expecting an easy playoff round with confidence-boosting wins over Spain, Hong Kong and Norway, to the prospect of five hard defeats from the world's best lacrosse teams. That's undoubtedly a dream come true for them, but a huge adjustment to make.

First Division

USA Australia England Japan Germany
Canada Canada 10-9 Canada 19-5 Canada 17-6 Canada 17-4 Canada 23-4
USA   USA 21-5 USA 17-5 USA 19-5 USA 22-4
Australia     Australia 10-8 (aet) Japan 11-9 Australia 22-4
England       England 13-12 (aet) England 12-3
Japan         Japan 15-9

Not many surprises from the blue division on the first two days, just solid wins for England over Germany, Canada over Japan and USA over Australia. Australia might be a little disappointed at the size of their defeat though. It must have hurt Australia to have one of their stars from the 2006 games (Brendan Mundorf) scoring against them in this match.

In the other divisions, each team will play each of the other three teams in its group once. That's one game per day for each team on the 16th, 17th and 18th of July. These round-robin days are long, with the first games starting at 8:30am, starting in half-hour intervals until 6:30pm.

Some early scores from the other divisions include Slovakia beating Switzerland 10-4; newcomers Poland whupping Bermuda 16-2, and Austria defeating Argentina 16-5; close wins for Wales over the Netherlands (10-9) and for Hong Kong over Norway (10-8); slightly more one-sided wins for Czech Republic over Italy (17-3), Sweden over Mexico (20-2), New Zealand over France (18-3), Ireland over South Korea (21-3) and Finland over Denmark (14-2).

Only after the Iroquois failed to take up their Plum division spot against Spain, did we learn that the Iroquois aren't coming, so it looks like the Plums will have to just cope with three teams now.

On the second full day, both Sweden and the Czech Republic continue their winning runs with heavy victories, while poor Italy and Mexico suffer their second set of heavy defeats (Sweden 16-3 against Italy and the Czechs 21-1 against Mexico). Meanwhile Spain managed to hang on to a narrow victory over Norway 11-8.

In the Blue division, Germany took a half-time 8-6 lead over Japan, relinquished it to 9-9 at three-quarter time, but then the juice ran out and Japan closed the game 15-9. This makes one of the extremely rare games so far where the lead has changed hands during the game. Almost all the other games have been one-way traffic, pretty much as predicted earlier. For example, Ireland took their second walkover (23-4 over Slovakia), Netherlands their first (29-3 over Argentina) and Scotland take their second comfortable win (18-8 over New Zealand).

England's second match turned into a nailbiter, with a mighty comeback from 6-2 down against Australia. The second-half comeback culminated in two English goals in the last 10 minutes, bringing the score to 8-8 at full time, and forcing the first period of extra time in the tournament so far. The Aussies scored another two in extra time though, bringing them their first win 10-8.

Mexico came pretty close to getting shutout in their game against the Czechs, but they did get a single goal. The dubious honour of the first game without scoring goes to Austria, conceding 19 goals to the Welsh but despite many shots on target and many saves, not managing to get on the scoresheet at all.

If England's overtime defeat to Australia was tense, their third game against Japan was even more dramatic, again going to overtime with many lead changes, eventually ending up 13-12 to England in the dying seconds. Suffice it to say that USA had rather less drama as they swept Germany aside 22-4. And Canada also had a relatively easy job against Australia, with an impressive 19-5 win.

On the 19th, Germany came up against world champions Canada, and although they put up a good fight, Canada triumphed 23-4. Also the USA had an easy victory over England 17-5. Yet the real thriller was Japan v Australia, with a terrific upset in a tension-filled, thrill-filled highlight game.

On the last day, the results followed the form book again with Canada defeating England, the USA beating Japan and Australia crushing Germany. After the first round then, with all games played, the standings look like this:

First Division

Won Lost Goal Diff Overall
Canada 5 0 +58 beat everyone
USA 4 1 +59 beat everyone except Canada
Australia 2 3 -12 beat England and Germany, lost to the others
England 2 3 -15 beat Japan and Germany, lost to the others
Japan 2 3 -20 beat Australia and Germany, lost to the others
Germany 0 5 -70 lost to everyone

So Canada and the USA finish as expected on top, and will go straight through to the semi-finals without a playoff. The crunch is the next two places: Australia, England and Japan all have two wins. Logic and common sense would say that it will be the overall goal difference which will separate them, so Australia and England should be third and fourth, and should enter the playoffs for the semis.

Except: apparently the officials have decided not to consider the overall goal difference, as everyone would expect, but only to consider the goal difference in the games between these three teams. Convoluted? Of course. And a smack in the face for the effort which England, Japan and Australia put in to their other matches against the USA and Canada. Next time they know they can just sit back and let the USA and Canada score as many as they like because the overall goal difference won't matter. It's far better to concentrate on the other games and save your players for the only games which really count. Similarly the USA and Canada don't care about their group match scores either, so the spectators can just lump it. Terrific.

So with another farcical decision from the officials, the deciding factor is for England -1, for Australia 0 and for Japan +1, meaning that controversially England now have no chance of getting to the semis for the third or fourth place which they'd hoped for - now the best they can do is fifth, and they'll have to fight for that too. Of course it's great news for Japan though, because instead of coming fifth, they're now by the modified rules actually third, and on their way to the playoffs.

First round in other divisions

Of course it's not just about the blue division, there are 23 other teams battling it out in the lower divisions too. Each of them has a chance to win the world cup, or at least win the right to play against one of the blue division teams for a semifinal place. After the first round, the table standings looked like this:

Orange Division

 WonGoal Diff
Ireland3+48
Slovakia2-12
Switzerland1-13
South Korea0-23

Plum Division

 WonGoal Diff
Spain2+5
Hong Kong10
Norway0-5

Yellow Division

 WonGoal Diff
Finland3+19
Poland2+23
Bermuda1-17
Denmark0-25

Red Division

 WonGoal Diff
Czech Rep.3+37
Sweden2+28
Italy1-18
Mexico0-47

Turquoise Division

 WonGoal Diff
Scotland3+43
New Zealand2+11
Latvia1-12
France0-42

Grey Division

 WonGoal Diff
Wales3+37
Netherlands2+37
Austria1-20
Argentina0-54

So a nicely consistent picture from the results, with as expected huge gulfs between the strongest teams in each division and the weakest. Scorelines such as 21-1 and 19-0 were not too uncommon, reflected in the huge goal differences after just three matches.

Mostly it went according to previous form, apart from Italy who performed strongly last time but clearly struggled here, and the Wales v Netherlands battle for the grey division, which was only settled by Wales' narrow 10-9 victory in the group match.

The second round

Now it starts to get tricky, with a bracketing system and a series of playoffs to determine the rankings. That meant that the teams were split into three groups, a top bracket, a middle bracket, and a lower bracket. In each bracket, the 8 teams (or 7 in the case of the lower bracket) go into a regular knockout to decide the placings within each bracket.

So the top bracket consists of the winners in each division plus the next best two, which means Ireland, Spain, Finland, Czech Republic, Scotland and Wales, plus Sweden and the Netherlands (presumably judged on goal difference but you never know). These are the teams which now (at least theoretically) still have a chance to win the world cup.

To cut a very long and complicated story short, Scotland beat Ireland and the Netherlands juuuust beat Wales (reversing Wales' one-goal victory in the group stage) to let those two teams go against the third and fourth placed teams in the blue division.

As always in these championships, it's not just about the winners, but additional games are played to determine the complete rankings of all the other teams. So the lower-placed teams aren't finished yet and must still battle for their position and honour. The so-called middle bracket consists of the next best 8 teams, which here are Slovakia, Hong Kong, Poland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, Bermuda and Latvia. These again have quarter finals and semifinals, and consolation games to determine the internal rank. Here, New Zealand and Poland finished top, followed by Latvia and Slovakia.

Finally, in the lower bracket, the rest of the teams went through to their playoff, and a chance for many of them to get their first wins of the tournament. These were South Korea, Denmark, Italy, Mexico, France, Austria and Argentina. In this round, Austria and Italy came out on top, followed by South Korea and Denmark. Only Mexico, Denmark and Argentina remain without a win now, although Mexico only narrowly lost 10-9 to South Korea, being even at 9-9 until the very last minute.

Final round

After some more play-in games, including a very close game between Japan and the Netherlands for their semi-final place, the final round decides the rankings within each set of four placings:

It seems rather unfair to give last place to Mexico already, because both Argentina and Denmark have done equally well. But I guess that's just down to luck of the byes. Obviously Spain has benefited from the Iroquois fiasco, as Germany was no longer in their group and they were able to go up to a higher set of placings than they would have done otherwise. Poland have done very well as the highest-placed newcomers, standing a good chance of coming in the top 15 in their very first world cup appearance.

Switzerland were also unlucky to get beaten 7-6 by Italy, after leading with good teamwork, Italy now go to the 17th-20th round and Switzerland should be comfortable against Austria, Norway and Hong Kong. Sweden did well to beat the Czech Republic after losing to them earlier, and make it up to the 9th-12th round.

There are a host of matches on the 22nd to break down these groups of four teams. In the top group, Canada played Australia (which Canada won comfortably 15-6), and the USA played Japan (and won comfortably 20-5). So it's going to be another Canada v USA final coming up, and a 3rd place playoff between Australia and Japan.

In the next group, England played Scotland, and after an early scare won 23-9. Also Germany played the Netherlands and came up with a very surprisingly one-sided win 14-1. So Scotland played the Netherlands for 7th place, and came up with a very narrow victory 11-10, helped by US imports and an injured Netherlands keeper. On the last day, England played Germany for 5th place, and found it harder than their first game, winning just 14-9. Later, Australia played Japan for 3rd place, and this time won comfortably 16-9. The final (again) was between Canada and the USA, and this time after a very close game the USA avenged their defeat in the rounds game with a 12-10.

The rankings after the final game are then as follows:

  • 1st USA
  • 2nd Canada
  • 3rd Australia
  • 4th Japan
  • 5th England
  • 6th Germany
  • 7th Scotland
  • 8th Netherlands
  • 9th Ireland
  • 10th Sweden
  • 11th Wales
  • 12th Finland
  • 13th Czech Republic
  • 14th Poland
  • 15th New Zealand
   
  • 16th Spain
  • 17th Slovakia
  • 18th Bermuda
  • 19th Italy
  • 20th Latvia
  • 21st Austria
  • 22nd Hong Kong
  • 23rd Switzerland
  • 24th Norway
  • 25th South Korea
  • 26th Denmark
  • 27th France
  • 28th Argentina
  • 29th Mexico

Match reports

The following short reports show the results for each day of the tournament so far:

Online video coverage

For those who want to watch these games, there is online video coverage available for a limited time from 247.tv - it's not free, but GBP 6.50 for all blue-division matches and the finals is good value. Unfortunately there is no similar package deal for the other groups, so if you want to follow a non-blue division team, you'll have to pay GBP 1 per game instead.

For this money you get the chance to watch each game, when you want it, streamed from their server which will be available until mid-August. Until then, you can watch any game as many times as you want, you can pause and rewind and forward-wind, but you can't download it and save it to watch it later. For that option you'll have to pay GBP 3 per game. It is also possible to watch the games live, but you have to jump on the right game at the right time, otherwise you have to wait around a day or more for the replay stream to be made available.

You do get commentary (on some of the games) and an on-screen scoreboard (on most games) but they have suffered from a large number of technical problems, some of them severe. On one game the commentary was stuck about 10 minutes behind the video, so was reporting on the score 3 goals ago, and describing attack movements opposite to those being shown. Very few games don't have any glitches, such as gaps in the audio or video, and errors with the on-screen scoreboard, but on the games with commentary the discussion is often insightful and entertaining, notably when Dave Hallows is on the mic.

One very annoying feature of the coverage, apart from the delay it takes for the replays to become available, is the tendency of the commentator to talk at length about the scorelines and events of other games which aren't available to watch yet. So even if you've taken great care to not find out the score before 247.tv let you watch it, they discuss it during the other matches. Very poor.

Championship wrap-up

So after the festivities are over, what can we conclude? It's been a great tournament for Japan, with fast and enthusiastic play, happy and dedicated supporters, and a well-deserved 4th place overall. They got a surprise win against Australia in the group round, including a spectacularly cheeky "hidden ball" goal, and played entertaining team lacrosse throughout. They also were notable in how few penalties they conceded - in none of their eight games did they give away more penalties than their opposition. In fact, on average they conceded less than 30% of the minutes that their opponents did. In five of their games they only gave away a minute or less through the entire game! That speaks volumes for the discipline and dedication of the players, and hopefully that will continue.

Again we saw a final between the USA and Canada, as everyone expected. With the Iroquois not present and Australia being well off their previous form (perhaps due to the difficulty and expense of travel from so far away), who else could be expected to get through to the final? The professional players from the north American leagues really do play a different game. It does make one wonder what is the point of a match between Canada and England, or USA and Japan. The north American team will win, no question, the only question is by how many goals. For the USA or Canada the goal difference is irrelevant, they'll be going through to the semis either way. And since the officials' decision on the placings between England, Australia and Japan, it turns out that the goal difference in a Canada v England game or a USA v Japan game is completely irrelevant to everyone. Of course it's match experience against the best but it's also tiredness and potential injuries in a game which at the end of the day doesn't matter.

We also saw great variability in the lower teams. Teams such as Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands rely hugely on north American players, and there is justifiable debate about whether that should be allowed. Is it good for the lacrosse in those countries for their world rankings to be decided by imports? Does it really stimulate the development of the game if natives are pushed out of the team by foreigners whose grandparents had citizenship?

So what should the eligibility criteria be for playing in a lacrosse world championship? Should all players be passport holders, or is residency enough? Is being a dual passport holder enough if that claim is only through grandparents? Or should the rules be made stricter, requiring players to have been a permanent resident of that country at least sometime during their life? Or to have played at least 5 games for a club in that country?

Few would go as far as requiring club games, especially as that would be very difficult to prove, but that would at least stimulate the sport in that country and would avoid the farce of foreign-born, foreign-raised players representing a country with which they have next to no connection.

It has also been (half-jokingly) suggested that all teams should suffer a one-goal handicap for each professional player on their squad - an unrealistic proposal but one which highlights the unfortunate gulf in the world championships.

One last and related question is what happens with the blue division now? Presumably the Iroquois Nations will be able to attend the 2014 world championships as they will be held in Denver, Colorado, and this should present the Iroquois with fewer transport difficulties than this time (let's just hope the British passports are accepted!). Germany have justified their blue division position this time, which would leave a 7-team blue division if Germany stayed in. There isn't really an eighth team available at the moment (with their own players) but a 7-team division would work with 6 games per team and some well-earned rest days. The game structure is already so complex though that I can't believe they're talking about expanding from 30 teams up to as many as 40 next time. Heaven only knows how the ranking would work then.

All in all, an excellent tournament with lots of exciting games and a few surprises. One could complain about the weather (rain, wet sticks, lightning), or about the pitches (unforgiving astroturf, slippy when wet), or about the coverage (the dead web server, slow results updates, cameras too tight in and often too dark), even about the refereeing (USA's disallowed goal against Canada, Japan's turnover for a stall call against Australia, miscommunication about England's goal difference calculations) but overall there was a good time had by all and some great lacrosse played. My star of the tournament would have to be Dave Hallows for his commentary, with second place going to the Japanese supporters.

One more topic of conversation for the next world championships in 2014 - what will England use for their national anthem? Throughout this tournament they sang along to "God Save the Queen" before every match, even when playing against Scotland. Scotland and Wales used their own anthems instead, which makes much more sense, as in this tournament they weren't representing Britain. So why hasn't England got its own anthem too? Something that the players and crowd can sing heartily to, and fire up the English team? Of course I'm not suggesting abolishing the British national anthem, just to keep it for British teams. But what could England use? There are only a few suggestions around, mainly "Jerusalem" (mentions England's green and pleasant land, but haughtily religious and named after a controversially-split and hotly-contested middle-eastern city), or "Land of Hope and Glory". Other alternatives seem either too imperialistic, too religious or too military. Maybe we need to employ Skinner & Baddiel to write a more contemporary one capturing the general spirit of England's sporting struggles.

Want to read more?

The official site of the World Championship is no longer at www.2010worldlacrosse.com, but at the time had a few brief match reports and full results and statistics. The site was out of action for most of the tournament though. As a bonus, the site included a laughable countdown to the tournament, stuck at "Years -1, Months 11, Weeks 3, Days 0" - way to go, software professionals!

An introduction to the tournament is given by the UK newspaper the Mirror, and the BBC also have a few words on the history of the game and its popularity in the Manchester area.