Keble may be hard to displace — Too few competent oarsmenThe main question in the Summer Eights, which begin at Oxford today, is whether Keble, without any of their five Blues rowing, will be able to retain the headship which they won for the first time last year. It is hard to find a crew at Oxford which does not claim to have beaten them, or their times, or someone else who has beaten them. Nevertheless Keble have had considerable strength in depth for the last few years.
Some say that to assess the prospects for eights it would be appropriate to study the intake policy of the various senior common rooms, rather than the crews on the Isis. But the real weakness of Oxford college rowing is common to rowing throughout the country at the present time — that the supply of competent oarsmen is divided up among too many clubs.
Thin on the groundOf the 16 men who rowed in the Oxford senior trials last November, five came from Keble and five from St. Edmund Hall. Another three men from each of these colleges rowed in the junior trials, and, in addition, Keble had three Blues and St. Edmund Hall one. So it can well be understood that the remaining six senior and 10 junior trial caps, spread among 21 other colleges, are pretty thin on the ground.
Behind Keble are Christ Church, who are lively but not particularly polished, though Spencer is doing good work at seven. To hold their position it looks as though they must catch Keble, either before or after being caught themselves by St. Edmund Hall. And it scarcely looks as though they can do it.
St. Edmund Hall are by far the most talented crew at Oxford, and, indeed, the only crew which has no weak links. They have been training at Henley, and so have not been seen in proximity with Keble. They must be favourites to finish head this week, but it may not be an easy passage.
Keble Eight in Danger — St. Edmund Hall in second placeSt. Edmund Hall took the first step towards gaining the headship in the Eights at Oxford last night. They closed to a third of a length on Christ Church before the Gut and caught them at the bottom of the green bank. Keble were in no danger, nor were they noticeably up on Christ Church, so they must be in danger today.
The weather was glorious yesterday, but the crowd was sparse. An innovation was a spirited, if imaginative, commentary from the Gut, which added considerably to the interest of the racing, and to the entertainment between whiles. Lincoln closed at once on Balliol, and were only a canvas behind as they went into the Gut. They continued to press, and claimed a bump at the pink post, which, however, Balliol did not acknowledge. Both crews rowed on to the finish, but Lincoln's bump was confirmed by the umpire.
New College also closed to within half a length of Queen's, soon after Donnington Bridge, but they could not get any closer. Oriel caught St. John's, and Merton caught Trinity below the Gut. Magdalen rowed over, but may be in danger from Merton today, unless they can catch St. John's.
Eights Week Change — Keble dislodged from HeadshipThe second day of Eights Week at Oxford had perfect weather, and St. Edmund Hall added to the general gaiety by doing what was expected of them and displacing Keble at the head of the river. But it was not quite so easy for St. Edmund Hall as had been expected.
Coming into the Gut, the gap had been reduced to threequarters of a length and for a few strokes Keble seemed to hold their own. At the bottom of the Green Bank, Keble, at 38, were rating two strokes faster than St. Edmund Hall, who then put in a spurt at 38 and began to gain fast. Keble raised their rate to 39 but they could no longer hold off St. Edmund Hall, who made their bump 100 yards below the University Boathouse.
For the spectators this gave one the few chances of spectacular excitement as nearly all the remainder of the 31 bumps in the day's racing were made below the Gut. Altogether it was a good day for St. Edmund Hall. Their second boat gained another step in the ladder with a bump on Christ Church II and their third boat, catching St. Peter's II at the top of the fourth division, then bumped Oriel II when they appeared as sandwich boat in division III.
In division V, Merton III, who, with an overbump on the first day, had already gone up places, went up again when they caught Hertford II. But it must be admitted that Merton were a little lucky and helped by some tactical rowing by Keble IV. Keble could have caught Merton but deliberately delayed making their bump until Merton had caught Hertford and then went all out to make an overbump on Corpus [II].
St. Edmund Hall Unchallenged — Queen's caught after narrow missThe excitement in the top division of the summer Eights at Oxford yesterday was minimal, with most of the first division rowing over, separated by massive gaps, and practically none of the second division even reaching the green bank. St. Edmund Hall rowed over unchallenged at the head of the river, and Keble answered the only remaining question about the leading places, by increasing their distance ahead of Christ Church.
After a sunny afternoon, the evening was breathless and overcast, with a few spots of rain, threatening thunder. It rumbled round, and gave one defiant crash, just as the racing ended, but like the rowing, it really produced nothing at all exciting. Behind the leaders Lincoln closed a little on Christ Church below the Gut, but dropped back. Queen's also closed on Balliol, but unfortunately for them could not make a bump, and they, too, were soon threatened by Oriel. At the O.U.B.C. Oriel were within a few feet, but Queen's took them half way up the barges, before lowering their colours. Exeter pressed Magdalen in the early stages, but lacked finishing power.
Practically the whole of the second divison disintegrated below, or just above, the Gut. The exceptions were Christ Church II, who reached the pink post before succumbing to Wadham, and Pembroke, who were caught by Keble II, a little lower down the river, after a brisk turn of hide and seek among the boats which had already made their bumps and were disentangling themselves in mid-stream.
Division IV — St. Catherine's II and Oriel III re-row a disputed bump today.
St. Edmund Hall win on merit — Keble's challenge dies awayThere were rumours on Saturday of an impending do or die onslaught by Keble on St. Edmund Hall, to regain the headship which they lost last Thursday. The intention need not be doubted, but its fulfilment was never on the cards. Keble were reported within three-quarters of a length at the Gut, but there were at least two lengths of clear water at the O.U.B.C., and St. Edmund Hall came home easy and well deserved winners.
After one of the worst attended Wakes [sic] Weeks for many years, the continued fine weather attracted a hugh crowd on Saturday, no doubt to study trends rather than rowing. They were nearly rewarded with a drenching, but the thunderstorms which threatened throughout the last division held off until most of them were home.
Dark horsesFor once, there was no doubt that the first three crews finished in order of merit, for the gap between Keble and Christ Church was even greater than the gap between Keble and St. Edmund Hall. Oriel, as energetic as ever and rather better together than in recent years, made their fourth bump, and could possibly have pressed Lincoln if they had had the chance. Merton proved to be the dark horses of the first division, and could certainly have made one, and possibly two, more bumps. University, too, were still in full cry.
But undoubtedly it was St. Edmund Hall's week. Their second crew made four bumps, their third and fourth crews made three, having been robbed on Thursday night. Their sixth crew held its place, and their seventh crew gained one place. No other college had more than five crews on the river.
The strength of the head of the river crew lay in fitness and uniformity of quality. It is doubtful whether they were exceptionally fast, but they were the sort of crew which would probably show to greater advantage over the Henley course. And it seems that they will leave us with an example which others might well take to heart, for they are now placing University before College, and putting all these men at the disposal of the president, who hopes to form a representative Isis crew for Henley.
|St. Edmund Hall|
|B:||R. Southwood (Radley)|
|2:||N. McN. Jackson (King's, Chester)|
|3:||R. D. Clegg (Tiffin)|
|4:||D. M. P. Barnes (King's, Canterbury)|
|5:||E. J. H. Gould (St. Edward's)|
|6:||D. J. Mills (King's, Canterbury)|
|7:||S. R. Morris (Radley)|
|S:||H. M. Thomas (St. Edward's)|
|C:||R. Miller (Harrow)|
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