The members of the Spirit of Rugby Lodge No 9922 and a host of guests (seventy-nine in all), gathered in Maidstone, Kent, on 19th February 2018 to celebrate the Lodge’s second anniversary and to install Andy Stevens as its third Master.
He was installed in fine fashion by his predecessor Matt Mitchell in a ceremony that, although “in accordance with antient custom”, incorporated many of the unique features which are characteristic of this very special lodge.
Special guest of the day was Stephen Salisbury, the appointed representative of the Provincial Grand Master, who was welcomed (several times actually….) by the Master.
Having attained the Chair, the new Master then proceeded to appoint and invest his officers. He paid particular tribute to outgoing Secretary Mike Gee, and Treasurer John Blunt, both of whom had played a vital role in setting up the Lodge.
Another special moment came when the new Master presented his predecessor with an engraved compass to help him overcome his now famous inability to differentiate between East, South and West.
The meeting having ended with the now traditional “Players Tunnel” and with three cheers for the “Away Team” (as the guests and visitors are known) the Brethren repaired to the Dining Room (via the Bar) for a delightful and joyous Festive Board.
Unfortunately it became necessary for the Spirit of Rugby Kangaroo Court to sit in session to deal with a serious misdemeanour by one of the members. Judge Andy Stevens called the Court to order to read the indictment. The accused was none other than Installing Master Matt Mitchell who was charged with two counts.
- That he had on various dates played a sport other than Rugby (in particular that of “Hockey”) and,
- That he had breached that most important of the Laws of Rugby “What goes on tour stays on tour”
Counsel for the Prosecution, Past Master Roger Waltham, informed the Jury that the accused had “in a premeditated and callous manner, posted or caused to be posted on Facebook pictures of the new Master when he was ‘tired and emotional’ at another rugby event. That the effect on his client had been ‘traumatising’ (although that could have been the beer) and that the most severe sentence available to the court should be imposed.”
Counsel for the Defence, Mark Lawson, offered no evidence, so the miscreant’s fate was sealed. The accused asked the court to accept a plea of “Diminished responsibility due to excessive alcohol consumption” but this was rejected. The Jury found him guilty as charged and he was sentenced to wear the “Hat of Shame” for the rest of the evening. One interesting legal point was that in donning the “Hat of Shame” he removed his Founder’s Cap at the Festive Board which resulted in another £5 fine for Charity.
The meal was followed by the usual raffle which raised £476.00. This was donated to the Lodge’s Community Fund which supports Rugby Clubs around the province.
Matt Mitchell’s reputation was however restored when he received the “Man of the Match” Award from the Representative of the Provincial Grand Master for his “outstanding contribution to an excellent and fun-filled evening.”