Earlier this week I wrote an article discussing players from outside of North America that played NCAA lacrosse this past season. This is sort of the reverse of that article, except we are just talking about the opportunities that exist to play college lacrosse outside of the United States.
Many in the United States think of college lacrosse as NCAA DI-DIII, NAIA, and NJCAA (JuCo), and the various club leagues. While those are all great options and very well known levels of college lacrosse there are more options out there, you just have to look beyond the borders of the U.S.
It may come to as a surprise to some, but you can play competitive college lacrosse on multiple continents, and in some cases it could be cheaper than playing and going to school here in the United States.
While the most competitive college lacrosse you will find outside of the United States is in Canada there are leagues in Europe and a growing college lacrosse presence in Asia as well.
Here is a continent by continent breakdown of these other opportunities to play college lacrosse outside of the United States:
To date, I don’t know of any case where someone from the United States has gone over to Asia and played college lacrosse, but it’s certainly possible.
The only college lacrosse league that I am aware of in Asia is in Japan, but there could be others. The league in Japan has been growing for sometime now and they are starting to attract thousands of fans to their games, pretty much selling out small high scholl sized stadiums.
It seems that their season works similar to European soccer where there are multiple leagues, or stages, and play in both the fall, winter, and spring.
Over the years there have been some Japanese teams come over and scrimmage NCAA teams during the fall. This past fall one team that came over was Waseda from Tokyo. They played Navy, Johns Hopkins, and a few DIII schools and actually faired better than some might think against that level of talent. Waseda actually beat Goucher and McDaniel pretty bad.
Japanese lacrosse certainly no where near NCAA DI yet, and you need to speak Japanese to even go to school there, but playing college lacrosse in Japan could be a viable option for a very select few.
College lacrosse in Europe has certainly evolved over the years, and continues to do so. While the United Kingdom has the best league with lacrosse being a BUCS sanctioned sport, there are colleges that have lacrosse in other countries as well.
There are college club teams and men’s club teams not associated with colleges in countries like Sweden, Germany, and others where you can actually go to college tuition-free even as an international student, and take classes taught in English.
College lacrosse in the United Kingdom has a long a storied history that goes back 103 years to the first game played between Oxford and Cambridge. These two schools have been playing lacrosse the longest and now there are around 100 schools that play lacrosse in the United Kingdom, competing in BUCS.
Here is a video from Lacrosse All Stars highlighting the 100th game between Oxford and Cambridge.
There have been plenty of players head to the United Kingdom to play college lacrosse as a post-grad, but heading over there while an undergrad has also been done a few times as well.
While going to Europe to got to college and play lacrosse may not be the most practical option for every player, it is certainly one that has its benefits and has been tested by many.
The game of lacrosse was born in North America so it makes sense that the best college leagues exist here, and it isn’t just in the United States. The best place to play college lacrosse outside of the United States is Canada, obviously. With the CUFLA and MUFLL there are real practical options for players to take their talents north and play high-level college lacrosse.
In addition, Mexico also has a growing number of colleges that are fielding lacrosse teams and some schools are actually starting to recognize them as varsity teams instead of just club teams.
The CUFLA is the oldest college lacrosse league in Canada and is based in Ontario and Quebec. This league is very competitive and has produced many pro lacrosse players over the years. There have also been an influx of players from the United States heading north to play in CUFLA. The league even gets coverage from outlets like Inside Lacrosse. We also have CUFLA coverage on Lacrosse Bucket each fall.
The MUFLL is based in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and is equally competitive but seems to be mostly teams that are club teams and not supported by their schools. CUFLA has more teams that are actually varsity teams and supported by their school and a few that aren’t.
In addition to those two leagues, there are also colleges in British Columbia that have lacrosse teams as well.
While lacrosse isn’t a sanctioned college sport in Canada, you read that right, it is still equally competitive as NCAA. In fact there are actually a few players that have transferred from NCAA to CUFLA.
For players in the United States, Canada is the best option to play college lacrosse outside of the U.S. and likely always will be. It is a real option for players across the country, providing a great education and great playing experience.