Unusually in the Usual Manner
Visitors to the first meeting of the Spirit of Rugby Lodge No 9922 on 18th April were greeted “In the usual manner observed amongst sportsmen”. That is, with warm and hearty applause at the opening of the lodge. This was just one of many new “traditions” seen for the first time at this forward playing lodge.
The “stadium” at Maidstone Masonic Centre was packed to capacity as some 90 freemasons converged to witness the lodge tackle its first meeting. Having had such a successful consecration at the founding of the lodge in February, the expectation was high. Could they make the conversion? Thankfully all nerves were put firmly in to touch and despite playing a few dummies at the start, the evening was a fantastic success.
Even the traffic chaos that delayed many attendees didn’t dampen the enthusiasm, this despite it having the knock-on effect of forcing the meeting into injury time.
Captain of the Squad, Worshipful Master Roger Waltham, led an excellent first degree ceremony which was thoroughly enjoyed by everybody, especially candidate Roy Strickland. Roger commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed our first ever Regular Meeting and initiating Brother Roy. It invoked for me, many happy memories of taking part in my own Initiation. I couldn’t have done it without the whole team who definitely give us the advantage!”
There were many hints as to the lodge’s rugby philosophy to be seen in the meeting itself and at the festive board. Most notably, the rugby-ball shaped gavels and hearty applause at the opening and closing of the lodge. This was shared by the “home team” to show their appreciation for the presence of the visitors or “away team”. The closing ode was perhaps more familiar to rugby fans than freemasons, being a unique version or “World in Union”.
The festive board was very different too. The Master, DC and his Wardens dispensed with the usual gavel and used referee’s whistles to keep order. Each founding member of the lodge donned their “founders cap” for the meal, with one exception, for which Peter Sparrow was awarded a fine. All done in good humour and of course the lodge’s charity benefits from additional funds. Peter was presented with a unique prize, a framed and signed Phil Vickery MBE England rugby shirt. This was won in an online raffle run by the East Kent Rugby Association, in support of The Wooden Spoon charity.
This happy and successful match concluded with one final new tradition. Nick Waller, responding on behalf of the “Away Team”, had an extra and pleasant task to fulfil. He was asked to nominate a “Man of the Match” who would receive an engraved tankard in recognition of an outstanding piece of play. All were in agreement with his choice of Matt Jury who had acted as Junior Deacon for his accurate, positive and confident performance - worthy of a grand slam!
The match summary? An excellent first game. A fine new candidate for Freemasonry. Over £500 raised for charity. There were no penalties, no red cards and no one (quite) made it to the sin bin. The standard and expectations have once again been set high for the next game when Spirit of Rugby Lodge meet in September.
Photos and report courtesy of Mark Stock