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25 October 2007 PR 07/134

World’s best lacrosse player to conduct coaching clinic at Loughborough University

Loughborough University will receive a visit from one of the best professional athletes in the world this weekend – chances are though, that you’ve never heard of him.

John Grant Jr, who helped Canada to the World Lacrosse Championship in 2006, will conduct a coaching clinic for the England under-19 men’s lacrosse team on Saturday as the squad use the University to hold a training camp in their build-up to next year’s World Championship in Canada.

“He is pretty widely regarded as the best lacrosse player in the world at the moment and to have him coming to our camp is a coup to say the least,” said England under-19 coach Tom Wenham.

Grant plays for the Rochester Rattlers in North America’s professional Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and for the Rochester Knighthawks in the semi-professional National Lacrosse League (NLL), which is played indoors during the winter. He was named as the Most Valuable Player for both leagues in 2007 and set a MLL record of 71 points (44 goals with two of the goals worth two points each, and 25 assists) last season.

Grant has been in Britain conducting four other coaching clinics with fellow professionals Shawn Wilkins and Jamie Taylor and Wenham said when he heard the trio would be in the UK he thought it was the perfect opportunity to invite them to the England team’s training camp.

“Lacrosse is a little bit like rugby – not many countries play it — and the England senior men’s team is ranked fourth in the world while the women are ranked third so we are on the radar, and people like John Grant are willing to come over here and run camps and act as an ambassador for the sport,” Wenham added.

The sport’s traditional powerbase remains in North America with the collegiate system now feeding into a professional league that began in 2001 and which expanded in 2006 to 10 teams from the original six East Coast-based franchises.

The World Championship, which now includes a team from the Iroquois Confederacy of Native American tribes – the only indigenous team sanctioned to compete at world championship level, began in 1974 and has been dominated by the United States and Canada.

Canada defeated the U.S. 15-10 in the last World Championship final in London, Canada, with Grant making three assists. England finished fifth behind the Iroquois Nationals.

In the UK the sport’s strength resides in north-west England, where a popular junior club programme feeds into a well-organised school competition, Wenham said.

Like most sports it competes with football for participation, though Wenham said rugby probably provides the “ideal” physical shape of players.

“Lacrosse is very similar to rugby…. it is a full contact game. It’s like ice hockey on grass. You’re fully padded up, you’re body checking each other, you can hit them with the stick. So we rely on pretty big and physical guys and then you sprinkle some agility and speed in there and you have a great mix. “

Wenham added the speed of the game, many of the top players in the world shoot the hard rubber ball at over 160kph (100mph), and the physical contact enhanced its popularity with spectators.

The England under-19 team, which will be based at Loughborough from Oct 25-28, will hold three similar training camps around the country before they embark for the World Championship that runs from July 3-12, 2008 in Coquitlam, which is near Vancouver, in Canada.
England finished fourth at the last tournament in the U.S. in 2003.

ENDS

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Notes for editors:

  1. John Grant Jr will conduct a coaching clinic with the England under-19 squad on Saturday Oct 27 from 0900-1300. Due to a scheduling clash, the clinic will take place on the rubber crumb pitch at Loughborough College, which is across the road from Loughborough University on Epinal Way. Members of the media are welcome to attend.
  2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    In the 2007 National Student Survey, the University was voted fourth in the UK, with 23 out of 29 of Loughborough’s subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. Loughborough is also ranked in the top five of UK universities in national league tables and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.

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