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.
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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.
Global News reached out to the association for comment but has not received a response.
In an emailed statement last week, CLA executive director Jane Clapham said: “As [a National Sports Organization], our mandate is to field national teams to international competitions.”
Clapham said in the statement the association intends to send a team to Israel.
“In Canada, communications between national team athletes and the NSO is common practice,” Clapham said. “In working to better understand national team athletes’ recommendations, we feel all involved will be best served by communicating with each other directly and not through others.”
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