St. Edmund Hall may stay head.The pattern of rowing at Oxford at present can well be summed up by quoting the distribution of this year's Blues and Isis men. St. Edmund Hall and Keble have five and six respectively, University and New College two each, and Magdalen one.
It may be thought that the fact that no Blues and only one or two of the Isis men are rowing for their colleges might even things up in the Summer Eights, which begin today. But in fact St. Edmund Hall looks safe to retain the headship, and Keble will most probably stay behind them.
The Oxford crew are now in full training for Henley, with two changes from the crew who beat Cambridge in the Boat Race. C. I. Blackwall and R. D. F. Spry replace R. A. D. Freeman and F. C. Carr. It is right and realistic that these men should not be rowing for their colleges, but it is perhaps unfortunate that the men from Isis were not made available early enough to join their college crews for Eights. Only D. Topolski and P. C. Prichard are rowing, and they should help lift New College from the bottom of the first division.
Oriel did well to finish third last year and again have a tough and energetic crew. But if they fail to catch Keble, which seems probable, they could be in trouble from Christ Church.
Below Christ Church are some uneven crews. Merton are rough, but may be fast for a short distance. Queen's and Balliol are weak. University have been on the upgrade, but probably lack the strength in depth to do without E. C. Meyer and Spry, both of whom are rowing in the Oxford boat.
Confusion and disputes at OxfordThe first division on the opening day of Eights Week at Oxford yesterday ended in chaos and confusion with six crews involved in disputes. St. Edmund Hall retained the headship, but since Keble closed on them at the start, and Oriel caught Keble at long bridges, Oriel clearly have at least a hope of upsetting the forecast by displacing St. Edmund Hall.
Christ Church were pressed by Merton, who were well away from St. John's and Lincoln. Then came the real trouble, of which this account is necessarily largely hearsay. Balliol claimed a bump on Queen's which was not acknowledged. They then apparently suffered a shipwreck, which resulted in their number six being hit by his oar handle and knocked unconscious. University then bumped Balliol, on the inside of the corner at the bottom of the green bank.
Squeezed bySt. Edmund Hall II just managed to squeeze by, but New College claimed that they were impeded by Balliol and University, and that this resulted in their being caught by Exeter. Thus Queen's, Balliol, University, St. Edmund Hall II, New College, and Exeter were all involved in this multiple dispute, which seemed to be an ironic reply to those who claimed that bumping races are preferable, because they are fairer than the Torpids system.
In the second division Worcester and Trinity made early bumps and St. Catherine's came withing 6ft. of Pembroke in the Gut, only to drop back to a distance.
At the O.U.B.C. it looked as though the whole of the rest of the Division would row over, bu Hertford failed along the barges, and Brasenose came up fast to catch them within a few strokes of the finishing line.
In this division there was another dispute, for Pembroke claimed that they were baulked by Trinity and Christ Church II, and that they would otherwise have made an overbump on Jesus.
Not readyLower down Oriel II caught Lincoln II to become the sandwich boat of the Fourth Division, and went on to overbump Queen's II, making a total of four bumps for the day. Merton III made a normal overbump on Magdalen III in Division Five. In Division Six St. Edmund Hall VI caught Exeter III, but Exeter lodged a protest, optimistically one would have thought, that they were not ready at the starting gun.
All these disputes, of couse, are a reflection on the organization. For while obstructions are sometimes unavoidable in bumping races, disputed bumps rarely are. In nine cases out of 10 it should be quite simple for the umpire to rule at once whether or not a bump has been made.
Oriel's place hard to holdAfter being Head of the River for the past two years, St. Edmund Hall were dethroned when Eights Week was continued at Oxford yesterday. As expected, Oriel, who can be really fast for a couple of minutes, were always gaining on them and made their bump halfway along the Green Bank.
Yet Oriel cannot feel completely confident of holding their place. Christ Church caught Keble about 100 yards above the University boathouse and if, as seems likely, they can bump St. Edmund Hall today they may be in a position to press Oriel hard on Saturday.
Oriel II kept up the good work of the boat club by bumping Exeter II in Division III and have now risen five places in two days. Merton III and University IV both continued their upward journeys and each has made four bumps.
When Magdalen bumped Exeter at the top of the barges in Division II they once again established their right to race in Division I as sandwich boat. But it did not avail them much, as they never made any impression on
St. Edmund Hall II.
Oriel almost certain of successWith the ever necessary proviso, barring accidents, Oriel must now be assured of the headship of the River at Oxford, which they last held 30 years ago. No doubt it will be the sweeter for being unexpected, and for following on a chequered career in recent years. For after a brief spell at second in 1946 Oriel gradually drifted downwards to 18th place on the river in 1960, and have now made 16 places since 1962.
There was only one bump, but plenty of excitement to make up for the miserably cold weather, in the First Division yesterday. St. Edmund Hall made no impression at all on Oriel, and were themselves in no danger from Christ Church. Keble, on the other hand, were threatened by Merton, who were within half a length at the O.U.B.C., where Keble hit the raft with stroke's blade, but just managed to escape.
University were a third of a length behind Lincoln, and closing, but their bow man went overboard just before the finish, which effectively ended their race. New College duly made their bump on Queen's, their third in succession. Behind them there was a great struggle between St. Edmund Hall II and Balliol.
St. Edmund Hall claimed a bump in the Gut, but this was disallowed. Coming on to the green bank they were almost overlapping, but well away laterally. Balliol then inexplicably steered back in front of them. At the O.U.B.C. there was less than six feet between the boats, but St. Edmund Hall had shot their bolt, and Balliol struggled home.
In the Second Division there were only three bumps. Jesus had to go to the New Cut to catch Hertford. Pembroke caught Trinity at the Stone, and St. Catherine's also made a quick bump on Christ Church II. At the O.U.B.C. it looked as though Exeter might re-bump Magdalen, who caught them on Thursday. They came within a quarter of a length, but could not finish the job.
Oriel eight not troubled at headOriel had no trouble in holding the Headship in the Summer Eights at Oxford, which they gained last Thursday for the first time in 30 years. Finishing at 38, they were nearly three lengths ahead of St. Edmund Hall, who fell to a fierce attack by Christ Church, almost at the finish The only other bump in the first division gave New College their full quota of four for the week. They were the only crew in the first two divsions to achieve this.
It is always harder to judge standards in bumping races, and the only valid test, of course, comes when these crews are matched against outside opposition in regattas. it is no disparagement of Oriel to say that there was no first class crew. The remarkable thing is that, with no special talent, they went ahead [sic] so convincingly.
In spite of the lack of any outstanding crew, the general quality of the first division crews was rather above average. Oriel, Christ Church, Merton, St. John's, University, and New College were all rough, but fitter than usual, and quite well together. Balliol's disaster on the opening night was apparently due to having a sick man in the crew before they started. With a substitute in the boat they regained one place on Saturday.
The week's racing must give the Oxford University Boat Club food for thought, because St. Edmund Hall and Keble, the two colleges who have dominated Oxford rowing in recent years, both failed badly. Both probably feel that they were sacrificed to the University and Isis crews. While this is superficially true, both had the material to hold their places without these men.
University rowing can only flourish today if the University crews are kept together during the summer, and it is certainly this policy which has put Oxford back on the map. But it was a pity that senior oarsmen who were not rowing for Oxford or Isis did not return to help their colleges for Eights.
|B:||G. J. Wilde (Berkhamstead)||11st 7lb|
|2:||D. R. Stokes (King Edward VII, Kings Lynn)||12st 4lb|
|3:||A. R. J. Hall (St. Edward's)||13st|
|4:||A. K. Butler (Bristol Cathedral School)||13st|
|5:||R. M. Bancroft (U.S. Naval Academy)||13st|
|6:||R. G. Humble (Epsom)||14st 13lb|
|7:||C. M. Chant (King's Canterbury)||-|
|S:||J. R. Close-Brooks (Radley)||11st 2lb|
|C:||P. J. Hawkins (Eton)||9st 4lb|
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