And the last game of the tour, which found the Americans (who had won eight out of 10) facing the Australian All-Stars in Melbourne, supplied the topper. An almost unheard-of lacrosse crowd of 10,000 saw the Aussies stagger away with a hard-fought 8-to-5 victory.
No athletes are more zealously dedicated to their game than lacrosse players. When Gene Corrigan, who coaches lacrosse at the University of Virginia, heard that the sport is entrenched in Australia, it seemed only natural to gather a group of American players and, in a mixed spirit of missionary zeal and competitiveness, offer to send them 10,000 miles to demonstrate how lacrosse is supposed to be played. Love to have you, said the Aussies, and last month two dozen eager young Americans from the University of Virginia and Washington & Lee reached Australia for a barnstorming tour. There were surprises all around.
The Australians got Surprise No. 1 as they watched the Americans jog onto the field at Perth. Protected only by padded cloth caps and wrist-length gloves themselves, the Aussies wondered why their guests were wearing fiber-glass helmets, face guards, forearm-length gloves, shoulder and body padding. “Are they going to box or play lacrosse?” asked one baffled official. He got his answer when the Americans went into action, swinging their sticks with carefree abandon and, in classic North American fashion, throwing their opponents almost as often as the ball.
Surprise No. 2 came to the Americans in Adelaide. Word of the North American style of play had spread, and Adelaide‘s lacrosse teams eagerly decided to adopt it themselves. They flailed away with their sticks, alternating this tactic with a little inventive kicking and tripping not strictly called for, even by the North American style. The Americans retaliated, and the Aussies in their less protective costumes began falling on all sides. Though the Aussies clearly lost the free-for-all (seven of them checked in at the hospital), they did persist long enough to win the game. They beat the Yanks in the next game too, and narrowly lost a third.
The crowd response to the games provided Surprise No. 3. Some 4,000 fans attended the series in Perth, while crowds of 3,000 and 4,000 watched the two rugged Australian victories in Adelaide. And the last game of the tour, which found the Americans (who had won eight out of 10) facing the Australian All-Stars in Melbourne, supplied the topper. An almost unheard-of lacrosse crowd of 10,000 saw the Aussies stagger away with a hard-fought 8-to-5 victory.
All in all, Corrigan and his colleagues felt that the trip was an unqualified success. They had developed great respect for the Aussies’ dogged-ness on the playing field, and had learned something of the crying need for agreed international rules. So enthusiastic are they that plans are already being made for another such go-round within the next couple of years. Here, it seems to us, is a good chance for somebody to come forward with an international lacrosse trophy. Nobody had ever heard much of international tennis, either, until Dwight Davis put up his big silver cup.