In the largest gathering of its kind for a decade, over 500 rugby fans and Freemasons filled the Winter Gardens in Margate on Monday 29th February to witness the founding of a new masonic lodge dedicated to the spirit of rugby
Spirit of Rugby Lodge, No. 9922 was formed by a group of over 50 East Kent rugby enthusiasts who recognise and value the strong connections between rugby and Freemasonry.
Medway Rugby Football Club member and founding Master of the lodge, Roger Waltham explained: 'Rugby Union has significant parallels with the core values of Freemasonry – in particular with respect to integrity, cooperation, and of course, benevolence and charity. Thus it’s hardly surprising that many rugby players also find their way into Freemasonry.'
Roger, who is also an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in the Province of East Kent, added, 'These links go back to the very roots of rugby. William Webb Ellis was himself a Freemason.'
The lodge was consecrated at a special meeting of East Kent’s Provincial Grand Lodge, by a team presided over by the head of East Kent Freemasons, Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing. He said: 'This was a very special occasion. I was absolutely delighted to meet so many rugby fans and Freemasons from across the UK and Europe, who came to join in the celebrations. An event like this shows the increasing value of Freemasonry in everyday life.'
The event was quite a spectacle as observers had the chance to witness the pageantry of Freemasonry combined with the fun and camaraderie of rugby football. The founding members sported especially commissioned rugby caps along with their traditional masonic regalia.
So called ‘special interest’ lodges have become increasingly popular over recent years and are helping Freemasonry to remain relevant and develop as an integral part of modern society. Sporting connections are a natural ally for those formed in a masonic lodge and rugby in particular is leading the way, with several lodges already formed across the UK.
Also present was Colin Broughton, Master of the oldest lodge in East Kent, the Royal Kent Lodge of Antiquity, No. 20.
Following the meeting the attendees shared a celebratory meal and raised over £2,500 for charity.
Among those visiting were representatives of rugby lodges from other part of the UK. Alan Hurdley, from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, commented: 'I must congratulate everyone involved in setting up the Spirit Rugby Lodge for making this initiative a reality. It was a wonderful ceremony and most convivial festive board, all conducted in the true spirit of rugby!'
And a spirited success it seems to have been, with prospective members already lining up to join.