Western Lacrosse Association cancels 2021 season
Due to the ongoing impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) in British Columbia and Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) in Ontario, in consultation with Lacrosse Canada, have made the difficult and disappointing decision to cancel both their 2021 seasons and the Mann Cup national senior men’s box lacrosse championship.
It’s the second consecutive year the pandemic has forced cancellation of both league play and the national championship. The WLA and its member clubs will continue to monitor developments on the situation with local health officials.
Both leagues had high hopes for 2021 and had planned to delay the start of regular season play, which was to have kicked off at the beginning of July; revised schedules were drafted as the two commissioners planned the Mann Cup series, which was to be held in September in Ontario. Their focus was to ensure the greatest calibre of box lacrosse in the world would be played when it was safe for players, staff, volunteers and fans.
But WLA commissioner Paul Dal Monte and MSL commissioner Doug Luey, in consultation with Lacrosse Canada and while considering directions from government and public health authorities, have now concluded that it would not be possible or responsible to play this year.
According to the WLA’s Dal Monte, a number of factors went into the decision to cancel, including:
• statements by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer that it is unlikely restrictions on large indoor public gatherings will be lifted this summer; and indoor adult sporting activities are currently limited to a maximum of two participants;
• provincial guidelines calling for elimination of all non-essential travel, which would make it difficult for players to travel to their summer clubs, as well as a reduced number of BC Ferries sailings, which would have affected teams’ abilities to travel between the mainland and Vancouver Island;
• and the serious economic impacts on the WLA’s many business partners, whose support its member clubs rely on for operations.
“While we know this is a huge disappointment for everyone involved in lacrosse — in particular, our players, coaches and dedicated fans — we are committed to doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID19, and our primary responsibility is the health and safety of the competitors, volunteers and thousands of spectators who would contribute to the success of the Mann Cup,” said Dal Monte. “This decision to cancel was not taken lightly and is a reflection of the gravity of situation the world, including the world of sports, currently faces.”
“Paul and I have been in regular contact over the past several months and having to cancel the Mann Cup for a second consecutive year is very disappointing to both of us. However, it is undoubtedly the right decision,” said MSL’s Luey.
“The decision to cancel the Mann Cup this season was made with the support of the MSL and WLA,” said Shawn Williams, Lacrosse Canada President. “Lacrosse Canada has had to make the difficult decision to cancel most of our National Championships for a second year in a row. We encourage our lacrosse community to stay safe and focused on brighter days ahead.”
“We look forward to welcoming back lacrosse fans to the 2022 Mann Cup, which will be hosted in the East by the MSL champions,” Luey said.
Since the modern era of the Mann Cup began in 1926, this will be just the second time the trophy will not be awarded to the best Senior A lacrosse club in Canada. The Mann Cup series is held each September, with the WLA and MSL champions facing off in a best-of-seven competition (for more Mann Cup information, see attached backgrounder). In the most recent Mann Cup, in 2019, the Peterborough (Ont.) Lakers won the national title— their third straight — four games to one over the host Victoria Shamrocks in B.C.’s provincial capital.