The Game that Never Was



“The Game that Never was”

Anzac International Lacrosse games in
Auckland to mark centenary.

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.

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.”

Playing schedule

Australia Women V New Zealand
Women                              12.00 PM
        25th April

Australia Men V New Zealand Men                                         2.15 PM           25th April

Australia Women V New Zealand Women’s
under 23            11.00 AM        26th April

Australia Men V New Zealand Men                                         1.00 PM           26th April

Australia Women V New Zealand Women’s
under 19             3.00 PM           26th April

Venue: College Rifles, 33 Haast
Street, Remuera, Auckland

For more information contact
David Zussman at or 027 3490461 or Nicole Goode

For information about College
Rifles contact Derek Rope at

Background Information


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 acclimatise 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
play Wellington 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.

Zussman, Manager, New Zealand Men’s National Lacrosse Team