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Royal Marines Lacrosse

Royal Marines Lacrosse

Jason Perrin |

In April 2024 250 Royal Marines set out for America from London Gatwick on Virginia Gauntlet, a sports tour to compete against US teams. With them were 11 Marines and 2 Naval personnel banded together to form the Royal Marines Lacrosse team. This was the first such team in the Royal Marines 360 years of existence. 

Sports within the military are categorised in order of a few criteria. Popularity in the civilian world, number of participants within the military and likely hood to bring in new personnel who play the sport being a few of the considerations. Unfortunately Lacrosse sits in the lowest category of sport within the military meaning it will not receive funding and personnel will not be given time within work to attend fixtures, which higher category sports receive to enable and encourage participation. There is only one way to change this and that's through exposing as many military personnel to Lacrosse as possible.

Although the Army, Royal Navy and Air Force all have Lacrosse associations, participation can be patchy at times due to the constraints placed on the lower category sports. I as a Royal Marine of 11 years had asked multiple times at the possibility of an RM lacrosse team and had always met the same answer, it doesn't exist within the corps.

It was August 2023, I was told the Marines finally wanted a Lacrosse team and they would need to be ready for Virginia Gauntlet. I would receive no funding from the military but I would get administration help and as much moral support as was required. With only 8 months until the tour to America I was asked "Are you up for the challenge?". I went into a panic about how to acquire kit, players, coaching and put all of that together to form a team. My first port of call was Jason Perrin at Northern Soul. I've known Jason a while and knew he'd have some idea of where to start and be able to provide a team quote for kit. Jason set to work and within a few weeks got back to me with the brilliant news that East Coast Dyes had generously decided to donate 25 Bravo 1 short sticks to support our beginnings. The shipping costs were covered by Jason and things already started to look achievable, only 7 months to go!

By the end of September I'd heard from Chris Peacock at Cheadle Hulme Lacrosse Club about The Lacrosse Foundation. The TLF is a charity that supports grass roots lacrosse through grants for equipment and coaching. With nothing to lose I put in an application and to my surprise was asked to attend a zoom meeting to pitch the plan and how lacrosse in the marines would benefit from a grant. This eventually led to the decision that funding would be granted which was amazing news! I had sticks, the kit would be on its way shortly, now I just needed players in line with the grass roots grant, so beginner players would have to be the main focus.

By mid October word had started to spread and I had a pool of 40 names of people who were interested in trying lacrosse and also attending Virginia Gauntlet. Who wouldn't want a free trip to America? Of all the names only 3 had experienced Lacrosse before. The first training sessions went ahead from November with ECD sticks and kit supplied by Northern Soul through The Lacrosse Foundations Grant. The Royal Marines Lacrosse team was starting to take shape. 

The nature of the job means people at different units are constantly being deployed or moved around the country. It was difficult to ever get more than 6 people at one time to a session, but Billy Rawlins was coaching us and starting to see some improvement. As quickly as people were being trained, they were again being snatched away by work commitments and the roster of 13 names changed time and time again right up until the week before we left for America. I myself had been deployed up until the week before and at times it was touch and go whether or not I'd make the trip.

Over the next few months there were various training sessions as well as communication with teams and locations in America to ensure they were expecting us. Unfortunately the USMC couldn't foster a team to meet us but West Point and the Naval Academy had agreed to host us and help develop us. This meant we ticked the box of attending fixtures with US military teams. 

At this point I must mention Ben Mayo who was my main contact in the states. Without his help the trip would not have run so smoothly, he did a lot of running around and emailing/phone calls to ensure we had enough to keep us busy including backups incase a fixture fell through. 

We finally got to the states on Sunday 7th April and after a nights stay at USMC Quantico we hit the road North for West Point. After the long drive we checked in and made our way to the Academy Sports ground, Shea stadium, which sits on the banks of the river Hudson. This is an unbelievable place to play Lacrosse with views right down the river. This for a lot of the team was their first time holding a lacrosse stick and we managed to cover some basics that night. The next few days we followed a vigorous crash course of "how to Lacrosse" set out by Billy. Although he wasn't there with us, we were training day and night covering around 5 hours of lacrosse a day. These days were followed by joint training sessions with Hudson Hellfire who are West Points League lacrosse team. Friday came and all our work led to a scrimmage against Hudson Hellfire. Hellfire being undoubtably more experienced than us and the teams first taste of lacrosse in America, it was decided we would play two 15 minute quarters against Hellfire then mix it up for the last two. This was a great introduction to a game of Lacrosse and the Hellfire guys were not only considerate but took the time to mentor our players. They were great hosts all round and it was a good first week in the states thanks to Hudson Hellfire. 


After a night out in New York City, the week of Lacrosse then came to a close on Saturday when we were gifted tickets to watch Army v Navy Lacrosse hosted at West Point. Army won the day and it was a fantastic way to end a week of hard work and an unimaginable learning curve for the guys who only 5 days before had picked up a lacrosse stick. 

We set off on a long drive south to Virginia Beach and after a few days rest and a couple of nights out, we met up with a division 1 women's team, Old Dominion University in Norfolk VA. ODU had kindly agreed to host us for a morning of joint training. This gave the team an insight into women's lacrosse and a look at what kind of support a division 1 team receives. The facilities were fantastic with multiple surfaces to play on, locker rooms, kit sponsors and access to physios. It really was a sneak peak into the world of American collegiate athletes. After the training we went out for a drink with the coaches who showed us what Norfolk had to offer. This training session was organised for us by Shootout 4 Soldiers, an organisation which aims to raise money for Veterans in the US through Lacrosse. They kindly provided both teams with S4S Pinnies. This has also created a lasting relationship looking at the possibility of bringing S4S over the Atlantic. 

The following day we were on the road again heading to Annapolis to meet up with the Naval Academy League team. The navy guys were thrilled to have us for a joint session which again culminated in a mixed scrimmage and a few of them met us for a drink after in Annapolis town. Over the next couple of days there were various events that we were required to attend in order to support the wider Royal Marines sports tour including Boxing, Rugby and BJJ. Those three being some examples of top category sports within the Military that receive the funding and support that Lacrosse does not yet enjoy. We were granted permission to squeeze in one last fixture. This being our first proper match, we played a local Maryland league team. Knowing our ability they adjusted their roster accordingly and we faced off with them the night of the 18th April for 4 quarters. It was at times a scrappy game as is expected with newer players but we held our own and one of the beginner players managed to score. It was amazing to watch from my player/coach position in defence just how far these guys had come in the space of two weeks. The players on the pitch started to look like a lacrosse team with experience, no one would of guessed that less than two weeks before was the first time some had picked up their sticks. After the game we stayed and shared a few drinks in the car park where we learnt a good few of the team were ex servicemen themselves and they loved the opportunity to Lax (and drink) with a bunch of Brit military. 

There is an untapped resource of sporting potential within the military. In many cases Military personnel have represented their sports at high levels before joining the UK Armed Forces and been unable to take it forward because they chose to serve their country as a job. It's sports tours like Virginia Gauntlet that allow Military personnel to experience the life of an athlete whilst getting paid to do so, an opportunity that is off limits to most in the civilian world. I explained to the RM Lacrosse team how lucky they were to be part of the small number of UK lacrosse players that have had the opportunity to be paid to go over and play in the states. 

I am immensely proud of what the team managed to do coming together to play in America, at times against all odds. It was a dream come true to get the team on Virginia Gauntlet and none of it would of been possible without the help of The Lacrosse Foundation, East Coast Dyes and Northern Soul.

Going forward it's now about exposing as many Marines as possible to Lacrosse. I know there are without a doubt more Lacrosse players within the Marines and those who the message didn't quite get to. I need help to ensure the sport gets spread amongst the various units. If you’d like to get involved in the Royal Marines or Royal Navy lacrosse teams, please make contact via the NavyFit website: Lacrosse | Royal Navy (


Corporal Stephen Bateman

Royal Marines