The Canadian lacrosse world continues to be embroiled in controversy as players chosen to replace the 34-man roster for the upcoming world championships in Israel are refusing to go amid an ongoing dispute between the players union and the Canadian Lacrosse Association.
The National Lacrosse Teams Players Association (NLTPA) said in a statement that CLA’s effort to sign up replacement players “has backfired” after the association broke off talks with the union and attempted to speak with players directly.
With the world championships just two months away, Global News has learned roughly a dozen players recruited as replacements have so far declined the CLA’s offer to represent Canada.
“I was asked by the CLA to go to Israel and play in place of those guys who have taken a principled stand,” said Kyle Rubisch, a professional lacrosse player for the Saskatchewan Rush, in a statement.
“The CLA cannot expect me or other players to overthrow what these players have been working toward.”
The NLTPA has been seeking a four-year deal for the five Canadian national lacrosse teams, aimed at providing better medical coverage, removing costs for players attending international competitions, the resignation of two CLA board members and the reinstatement of its athletic charity status.
The dispute has jeopardized Canada’s chance of defending its title at the world championships. Canada has not missed the tournament since 1967.
Bob Snider, a veteran player with Calgary Roughnecks, said the Canadian lacrosse community is small and there is an “unspoken bond” among players.
“Having played alongside or against those 34 individuals, I can proudly say that I stand beside them and support them 100 per cent,” Snider said in a statement. “They are fighting for something bigger than themselves and that speaks volumes of their character. I will not act as a replacement player on the Men’s National team.”
An email sent to players states that training camp would begin July 6-8, 2018 in Ontario before the worlds in Netanya, Israel, which are scheduled to begin July 12.
“Athletes will have ALL fees and costs related to attending the training camp and World Championship covered by the CLA. They will also be provided with sport accident insurance and travel insurance coverage,” the email read.
Drake Porter, a goalie from Aurora, Ont. playing at Syracuse University, was offered a spot on Team Canada for the world championships and said it’s an invitation he has no intention of accepting.
“It has always been my dream to represent my country and wear the red and white but not under these circumstances,” he said.
“I, as a 2016 U-19 Team Canada Member, feel as though the best way to represent my nation is to stand with the NLTPA and reject the invitation to be a replacement player.”
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NLTPA lawyer Richard Furlong previously told Global News the CLA’s action “constitutes brazen union-busting” and is damaging Canada’s reputation as the premier lacrosse country in the world.
“Ironically, it won’t work,” Furlong said. “The players, both men and women, are 100 per cent behind the NLTPA.”
The union is asking the CLA to return to the bargaining table and resume talks.
In an email response to Global News, the CLA’s Director of High Performance and International Relations, Doug Luey, said the CLA’s number one priority is to field a team for the worlds.
“Our hope is that athletes who want to compete for Canada will be given that opportunity, without being made to feel like they have to choose between fulfilling a dream and supporting their colleagues,” he said.
“Once we have resolved our immediate priority of fielding a team, we will continue to explore how best to move forward with the NLTPA.”