The Western Lacrosse Association announced Tuesday morning the league will not play this year, and there will be no Mann Cup Senior A lacrosse championship.
Due to the ongoing impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, both the WLA and Ontario’s Major Series Lacrosse cancelled their 2021 seasons.
“We waited as long as we could,” said Maple Ridge Burrards GM Lance Andre.
He said the WLA commissioners had been hoping to get in a 12-game season, and watched as COVID-19 case counts slowly came down in B.C. and vaccination numbers increased across Canada. But they simply ran out of time to organize the season. He noted they are constrained at the back end of the season, as rinks are needed for ice sports in September.
It’s the second consecutive year the pandemic has forced cancellation of both league play and the national championship.
WLA commissioner Paul Dal Monte and MSL commissioner Doug Luey, in consultation with Lacrosse Canada, concluded that it would not be possible or responsible to play this year. Dal Monte said a number of factors went into the decision to cancel, including statements by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that it is unlikely restrictions on large indoor public gatherings will be lifted this summer. Also, indoor adult sporting activities are currently limited to a maximum of two participants.
Andre said travel restrictions were also a key consideration, as WLA teams often have players on their rosters from out of province, and travel between Vancouver Island teams Victoria and Nanaimo would be complicated by current public health orders, and reduced ferry sailings.
He said WLA teams don’t all have the resources necessary for private testing, as do other sports still operating during the pandemic.
The lacrosse leagues determined that restrictions would not change in time to change save their seasons.
“It doesn’t sound like the public health orders are going to change after this weekend,” said Andre.
He said the leagues had planned to make a final decision by April 15, and delayed cancelling as long as possible.
Dal Monte said cancelling is the right decision.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Since the modern era of the Mann Cup began in 1926, this will be just the second time the trophy will not be awarded.
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