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Sports This Week: NLL star reflects on 6v6 lacrosse at World Games

This summer Rogers wore Canadian colours heading to Birmingham, AL, to compete in the debut of 6v6 lacrosse at the World Games
Challen Rogers Courtesy Lacrosse Canada 72
Challen Rogers in field lacrosse action.

YORKTON - In terms of lacrosse Canadian Challen Rogers is putting together a stellar and varied career.

In field lacrosse Rogers played with the Boston Cannons of the now defunct Major Lacrosse League, winning the league title in 2020, and now plays with the Chaos in the Premier Lacrosse League.

But, box was the version of lacrosse Rogers, from Coquitlam, B.C., grew up playing, and he was selected in the first round, second overall by the Toronto Rock in the 2016 NLL Draft.

Interestingly, Rogers scored his first NLL goal in January 2017 versus the Saskatchewan Rush.

Rogers also suited up for Canada winning the 2019 World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor World Championship.

This summer Rogers again wore Canadian colours heading to Birmingham, AL, to compete in the debut of 6v6 lacrosse at the World Games, where the team brought home gold after defeating the United States 23-9.

“What an unbelievable experience it was,” said Rogers, adding it was a very unique experience being part of what was essentially the debut of the 6v6 format of the sport.

Rogers said he recognized going in it was something of a unique opportunity being the first major international tournament of a recently created version of the game.

Of course being a lacrosse team from Canada there were expectations to do well to deal with too.

“We expected to win,” said Rogers, adding with such expectations come the pressure to perform “in a World Games situation.”

While Rogers has many lacrosse accolades, he said the 6v6 gold “is extremely high up,” his personal list of achievements.

So was wearing the red and white jersey of Team Canada, even though he had done it in 2019 as well.

“Every time you put on that jersey, representing your country, (representing) everybody who got you to that point in your career, your family, yourself, it’s special,” he said. “It’s an honour to put on that jersey.”

But, just importantly was being involved in an international multi-sport event. Rogers said being around all the athletes in a range of different sports was special.

So what does Rogers, a player with a diverse resume, think of 6v6 now that he has played it at the highest level.

“To be honest when I first heard about, I was kind of surprised,” he said, adding he couldn’t see why a third version of the game was needed.

But, having played it now, Rogers said it is a unique version of lacrosse,

“There’s such a high pace to it, such a high skill type of game,” he said.

The 6v6 game is played on a smaller outdoor field and with a smaller roster, so it reminds at first look of box taken outside.

“It is a box game played outside with bigger nets,” said Rogers.

Rogers said box skills certainly translate well to 6v6.

“Canadians playing box, that good five-on-five experience, I think that helped us with the speed of the game, the skills,” he said. “. . . Lots of the things we do in box we can take to the sixes game.”

In his interview with Yorkton This Week Rogers kept coming back to the pace of play setting 6v6. For example, after a goal there is no pause for a face-off. The goalie pulls the ball out of the net and the game restarts.

“It you score get back (on defence). If you miss the net, get back. You can’t really celebrate a goal. You have to run back to defend,” said Rogers.

It certainly looks like 6v6 is here to stay, as it is the version being proposed for inclusion in the summer Olympics.

And, the PLL has announced an off season tournament which will consist of the top four teams in the league playing nine total games of Sixes, early in 2023.

“It’s pretty cool they’re interested,” said Rogers, adding that the event will add exposure to the game.

So with Sixes being so new, is there anything a lacrosse veteran like Rogers would change?

“I’ve thought about that,” he said, adding he hadn’t come up with anything in particular.

Asked if a two-point line like the one in the PLL would help with some of the lopsided scores, he replied “a two-point line would be pretty cool. Some games get out-of-hand.”

With some thought, Rogers also said a smaller net might be considered just to help control scoring a bit.

But, overall, Rogers likes where Sixes takes the sport.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” he said, reiterating once again the quickness of the game really sets it apart.