Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Leicestershire & Rutland Light Blues RFC accepted an invitation to participate in the inaugural match of the Province of West Lancashire’s new Masonic Rugby Team. After much planning between the Light Blues RFC and WLFRFC, the two sides met on the 9th February 2019.
Wigan, a town more familiar with Rugby League, was to be the battleground and despite stormy conditions throughout the night, the sun was shining and the Wigan RUFC pitch was in excellent condition. A 200-strong crowd was expected, and both teams were ready to compete for the Freemasons Rugby Challenge Cup, a cup donated by both clubs to encourage the development of Provincial Masonic rugby teams, and, of course, healthy fraternal rivalry.
Both sides began the match with enthusiasm and, with ‘brotherly love’ being temporarily put to one side, in true rugby spirit! Despite it being their first match (and for some of their players, their first ever game), West Lancashire were competitive with resilient defence and probing attacks, but the first half finished with Leicestershire & Rutland having a narrow lead 10-13 due to their well drilled and efficient playing style.
Whilst West Lancashire fielded an all-masonic team, part of the ethos of Leicestershire Light Blues RFC, who have been established for a number of years, is to work as a recruiting platform and a conduit into Freemasonry. The fresh (and younger) legs of the Leicestershire & Rutland brethren and gentlemen proved decisive and, after a hard-fought second half, the Leicestershire & Rutland team were victorious with a 30 points to 10 victory.
The Freemasons Rugby Challenge Cup was presented to the Light Blues RFC Captain Bro. Andrew "Jock" Keenan by the WLFRFC Honorary Patron, Right Worshipful Bro. Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master of the Province of West Lancashire, for a well-deserved victory. WLFRFC Honorary President, linesman and Deputy Grand Superintendent from the Royal Arch Province of West Lancashire Comp. Dr Paul Renton presented Man-of-the-Match awards to West Lancs’ Hooker, Bro. Mark Brant, and to Leicestershire & Rutland’s Fly Half, Bro. Ollie Stanley.
Fundraising on the day raised £960 which included a generous donation of £103 by the Leicestershire and Rutland Brethren.
WLFRFC Chairman & Founder Bro. Garry Hacking, praised the generosity and support of all who attended the match from both Provinces and thanked W.Bro. Daniel Quelch and W.Bro. Andrew Keenan for their guidance, advice, and help in setting up the West Lancashire team.
The day ended in a traditional Rugby manner, with lots of cheer, laughter, song, and beer.