A ball hasn’t been thrown in a competitive match yet but the drama at the World Lacrosse World Championships has already begun.
The first game of the tournament has been scheduled for over a year, to take place on Thursday 15th July 2010 between England and the Iroquois Nationals. But yesterday the team, their coaches and their families and supporters were refused entry onto their flight from NYC airport after they were denied British entry visa clearance by the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. government then offered the group U.S. passports for travel, which they refused. To accept the U.S passports would have been a blow to their pride, their tradition of travelling as the Iroquois People on their Iroquois passports and their beliefs.
So as it stands, the Iroquois Nationals are stuck in New York and England have no one to play in the opening game. If the Iroquois team fail to make it over I will without doubt be disappointed. I have already done some research into the Iroquois team and their history of lacrosse and was genuinely looking forward to seeing the original inventors of the game play in a competitive match. It must be so hard for the team and players themselves, months of training, anticipation and excitement to come to this.
So what happens if the U.S Department of State refuse to offer clearance and the Iroquois team decide not to travel on a U.S passport? Since the playing schedule was released more than a year ago the organisers would not be able to draft another team in to play England and the game would have to be forfeited by the Iroquois Nationals.
Along with England and the Iroquois Nationals, Japan, Australia, Canada and USA make up the remainder of the blue or premier division. They are in this top pool based on the seedings from the 2006 Championships and the draw undertaken the ILF meeting in Lahti, Finland.
As well as the blue division there are six other groups containing teams from 24 nations, such as Bermuda, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand as well as the home nations of Ireland, Wales and Scotland. These teams all have a chance of contesting for the title of World Champions.
Once each nation has played each team within their pool they are ranked from first 1st to 4th and then divided into 3 tiers:
Top Division – 1st place finishers + top four 2nd place finishers
Middle Division – Remaining 2nd place finishers and the top four 3rd place finishers
Lower Division – remaining 3rd place finishers and the 4th place teams
The winners of each match will then go through to a Semi Finals Day and eventually a Finals Day on Saturday 24th July.
The contesting teams, bar the Iroquois Nationals are all now in Manchester, have set up their camps and are eager for the competition to start. It would be a real shame for the Championships to start without an opening game, and without the Iroquois team but I am sure the 29 other teams competing will want to put on as much of a spectacle as possible and showcase their sport of lacrosse.