A dip into the Stonyhurst Magazines of yesteryear will usually find reference to The Hodder v Rhetoric Challenge, which gained momentum as an annual tradition, with Hodder always gaining a well-earned victory over their giant adversaries. Interestingly, the Hodder Notes of June 1921, record an interruption to the usual fixture and the reason is both familiar (the weather) and topical (a forthcoming centenary).
"We have now taken up Rugger at Hodder, and as the weather was too cold for cricket at the beginning of term, Father Woodlock kindly came to give us a ripping lecture on it. ... It's a really topping game ..."
The previous year's Hodder Notes revealed another twist: they didn't face Rhetoric, but "Wretoric", obviously a joke which is now lost to posterity. Hodder, ebullient as usual, complained that the weather slowed their progress. "It was rather wet during the match, so it was a bit hard to bowl, so therefore we could not get them out with less runs." Wretoric were smashed, though, by 61 runs! Not in the modern tradition, I might say. Hodder are far more genteel in their pursuit of triumph.
This Stonyhurst tradition, much-loved and anticipated by all, has become a rite of passage, brought with care from Hodder Place and continued here at SMH. When Rhetoric (Wretoric?) return to play their own game, one of their last acts as pupils here at Stonyhurst, their memories cast them back to their own time in Lower Elements, they may even have been the dynamic secret weapon, when they too beat the mighty visitors by one run. I wonder what our lineal descendants in one hundred year's time will think of it all? They'll be continuing the tradition, of course.
In the Year of Our Lord, 2021,
We, the pupils of the Rhetoric Playroom at Stonyhurst College,
Challenge the boys of the playroom called Hodder at St Mary's Hall
to a contest of English bat and ball.
the gauntlet has been thrown down.
Let us then join battle on St Mary's Hall Field on (specify day).
Glory to the victors!
In the Year of Our Lord, 2021,
We, the boys of Hodder Playroom at St Mary's Hall,
have received the letter of the Rhetoric pupils with pleasure,
and now desire to enter the contest of English bat and ball, as handed down to us and to yourselves by our ancestors.
We have taken up the gauntlet, which you have thrown down.
Let us draw battle lines and meet on St Mary's Hall Field on (specify day),
unless Jupiter himself, by sending down showers of rain from the Heavens, prevents us.
Fortune favours the brave.
the years and dates on the Latin originals have also to be changed. If you let me know what day the match is being held, I can amend them and send them back to you.
Anno Domini MMXXI
Communiter nuncupato Anno Bimillesimo
Nos discipuli Scholae Rhetoricae apud Collegium Saxisilvanum provocamus vos pueros Scholae quae appellatur Hodder apud Aulam Sanctae Mariae ad certamen
Clavae Anglicae atque Pilae.
Manica deiecta est.
Proelium igitur committamus in campo Aulae Sanctae Mariae, ante diem [specify day]
Victoribus sit Gloria
Hoc Bimillesimo Anno Domini MMXXI
Nos pueri Scholae Hodderensis apud Aulam Sanctae Mariae
epistula discipulorum Rhetoricorum libentissime accepta certamen
clavae Anglicae atque pilae
nobis vobisque a maioribus traditum iam nunc inire cupimus.
manicam a vobis deiectam sustulimus.
aciebus igitur instructis conveniamus in campum Aulae Sanctae Mariae ante diem [specify day] nisi Iuppiter ipse imbribus de caelo demissis nos prohibebit.
Fortibus Faveat Fortuna.