Media Contact: Darryl Seibel

March 20, 2019

New York, NY – The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), in partnership with its member-National Governing Bodies, is initiating a consultation process through which members are being asked – entirely on a voluntary basis — to experiment with a new discipline and related set of playing rules for the sport of lacrosse.

The new discipline and draft playing rules have been developed by the FIL Blue Skies Working Group, which is responsible for examining innovative ways to best position the sport of lacrosse for continued growth in the 21stCentury, including the long-term ambition of returning lacrosse to the Olympic Games.  This approach is consistent with work done by other leading international sport federations, including World Rugby and the International Basketball Federation, which have introduced new disciplines or other modifications to their sports while maintaining the integrity and traditions of their games.

The Blue Skies Working Group, which is chaired by FIL Vice President Steve Stenersen, began its work in September 2018.  Through a series of in-person meetings, conference calls and consultation with players, coaches and officials, a new discipline and initial set of playing rules has been developed.  In January 2018, the FIL Board of Directors endorsed the direction of the Blue Skies Working Group and recommended that FIL members be asked to experiment with the new discipline and playing rules.

Earlier this month, FIL members received the draft playing rules and have been asked to trial the new discipline, and provide feedback, during the next two months.

Based upon feedback from the FIL membership and further revision to the discipline and playing rules, the Blue Skies Working Group intends to present a final proposal for approval at the FIL General Assembly, August 12-13 in Peterborough, Ontario.

If approved, the new discipline will be a complement to the current field and indoor disciplines sanctioned by FIL, and in no way will replace those disciplines.  The new discipline pertains to both men’s and women’s lacrosse, and is not a unified or coed division.

Appointed by FIL President Sue Redfern, members of the Blue Skies Working Group are:
Steve Stenersen – FIL VP / Working Group Chair
Fiona Clark – FIL Competition Director
Dana Dobbie – Athlete Counsel Representative
Terry Harding – Men’s Official
Jane Powell – England High Performance Manager
David Ryan – FIL Independent Director
Jim Scherr – FIL CEO
Scott Seymour – Octagon Executive
Mara Wager – Women’s Official

“The development of new, complementary disciplines of lacrosse is integral to the achievement of the FIL’s strategic plan,” said Vice President Stenersen.  “Our Blue Skies Working Group has had the unique opportunity to re-imagine the sport based on the goals of fueling continued international growth, increasing spectator appeal and maximizing media exposure.  The rule drafts will continue to be refined based on feedback from our member nations, and we look forward to presenting final recommendations at the General Assembly in August.”

Key considerations being examined by the Blue Skies Working Group in developing the new discipline and playing rules include (in alphabetical order):
Competition equity
Degree of gender consistency
Game duration
Linear and digital media appeal
Pace of play
Player appeal
Rule simplicity
Spectator appeal
Sport growth
Sport integrity
Team size
Tournament duration

Overarching principles:
Men’s Discipline

  • Eliminate violent collision
  • Maintain current protective equipment
  • Eliminate long sticks
  • Maintain other current stick specifications
  • Goalie stick specifications identical between disciplines

Women’s Discipline

  • Maintain current restrictions on body contact and stick checking
  • Maintain current protective equipment and require eyewear for field players
  • Maintain current stick specifications
  • Goalie stick specifications identical between disciplines

Summary of Trial Rule Recommendations:

  • Field size — 70 meters X 36 meters
  • Field markings – perimeter markings, goal circles/creases, goal line, midline, draw circle, substitution and player boxes
  • Goals – maintain current specifications
  • Game structure – four 8-minute periods: running clock; 5-minute halftime and 2 minutes between quarters
  • Time clock stops for a timeout, end of a quarter, injury, or during a dead ball within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter
  • Shot clock – 45 seconds; resets on every possession change
  • Game and shot clocks stop for a timeout, injury, or during a dead ball within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter; resets following the end of a quarter
  • Two 30-second timeouts for each team per half
  • Squad size – 10; 6 + 4 subs (allow up to two alternates in the case of competition-ending injury TBD)
  • On-field players – 6 on 6; goalie and five field players on the field at one time
  • On field staff – two coaches and one medical
  • Substitutions – on the fly
  • Offside – both teams must hold back two players behind the midline
  • Over-and-back – prohibited
  • Ball out-of-bounds – when the ball goes out of bounds for any reason, including a shot, it is awarded to the team that did not touch it last
  • Goals – if a player is fouled in the act of shooting, the goal will count
  • After a goal – goalies have 5-seconds to put the ball in play be either passing it or running it out of the goal circle
  • All defending players can run through the crease but cannot act as a goalie
  • Draws – at start of each period and OT
  • OT – sudden victory
  • Officiating – 2 officials per game
  • Penalties – major/minor/technical fouls and related mechanics as close as possible between disciplines
  • Pre- and post-game officiating mechanics identical across disciplines