Men's lacrosse rule changes for the 2019/20 season


National Lacrosse Committee have agreed several changes to the rules for men’s lacrosse for the upcoming 2019/20 season.

The revisions are predominantly to adopt changes that World Lacrosse (formerly Federation of International Lacrosse) has introduced into the International Rule Book. There are however some additional changes that are specific to the English game.

The changes were agreed following consultation carried out by England Lacrosse with clubs and the regions.

England Lacrosse is now working with Referees & Rules Committee to produce a webinar before the start of the season to provide further guidance regarding the rule changes.

All changes are highlighted in yellow in the new rule book, which can be found at the bottom of this page, but for ease of reference, the main changes are summarised below:

Rule 17.4 – First Aid Kit

The rule has been changed slightly and now stipulates that a First Aid Kit must be available in the Bench Area.

Rule 20 – Substitutes (Squad Size)

20.1 A team may have up to eight substitutes. 

20.2 Only eighteen players in a squad may dress in team uniform for a game.

Rule 22.2 – Coaches

The rule in relation to Coaches Conduct has been changed to make specific reference to the Code of Conduct.

The responsibility for Coaches to control the behaviour of spectators has been removed from the Rule book and will be included in the Byelaws.

Rule 23.1 The Officials

Has been amended to stipulate that there must be a minimum of 2 Referees 

Rule 23.2 – The authority of the Referee

The rule has been amended, as follows to give greater clarity to when the Referees authority ends. 

“The authority of the referees shall begin with their arrival at the ground, and terminate at a reasonable time after the end of the game (Which will normally be when the officials leave the playing area)”

Rule 24.2 The CBO

The rule has been amended to allow the CBO to assist the on-field referees with the new Over & Back Rule. (see below)

Rule 31 – Tied Game

The two periods of Overtime have been removed and tied games will go straight to Sudden Victory Overtime. NB. Games where Overtime is applied i.e. Cup Competitions and not league games has not changed. 

  1. A new AR has been included as follows to clarify the rule in relation to body checking at the Face Off.

“AR 34.26 During the face-off, immediately the official blows their whistle the RED player attempts to body check the BLUE player who is attempting to move the ball. 

RULING: Legal play. However, the safety of players is of paramount importance and the relevant rules 70.1 to 70.6 (Illegal Body Check), 74.3 (Unnecessary Roughness)and AR78.6 Deliberately targeting) should be applied.

Rule 37 – Free Play

Allows the officials to re-start play if the defender is less than 5 yards away from the player in possession of the ball. – The critical part of the rule reads:

“If an opposing player is within five yards of the player that has been awarded the ball, and the official blows the whistle to restart play, the opposing player is not allowed to defend the ball until he reaches a distance of five yards from the opponent. A violation will be a flag down (slow whistle) for delay of game.

Rule 44 – Injured Player

The World Lacrosse Rule has been introduced, but with a caveat specifically for the English Game in relation to teams playing with 10 or less players.

44.4 i) If the clock has to be stopped to allow an injured player to be treated then, unless a team uses one of its time-outs, the injured player must leave the field before the start of the next play and he may not return before the next dead ball. This rule will not be applied where a team starts a game with 10 or less players or its playing numbers are reduced to 10 or less during the game, for reasons other than penalty time (including expulsions or “fouled out”).

61.18 Over & Back

Is a New Rule – Once a Team has progressed the ball over the Attack Goal Area Line (Restraining Line) they cannot take it back over the Halfway Line.

There is a New AR61.2 to assist in interpreting this rule.

Rule 65 Offside

The offside Rule has been re-written and now reads:

65.1 A team is offside when it has no more than 10 players on the field; AND 

i) That team has more than six players in its attack half of the field, including players in the penalty box. For enforcement of this section of the rule three players are to be added to the number of on-field players in attack half, when the team has three or more players off with time-serve fouls, OR 

ii) That team has more than seven players in its defensive half of the field including players in the penalty box. 

The significant element of this change is that it has removed any reference to where the ball is.

Rule 78 The Nature of An Expulsion Foul

Two new categories have been added which MUST result in an expulsion:

78.5 The use of racist or other discriminatory abuse MUST be an expulsion foul. 

78.6 The deliberate and violent targeting of the head, neck, throat or genital area MUST be an expulsion foul.

Rule 82.6

Introduces guidance on what happens when referee blows an inadvertent whistle. This does not change current practice.

Code of Conduct

The England Lacrosse Code of Conduct has been added to the Rule Book at Section 16. 

England Lacrosse - The Rules of Men’s Field Lacrosse