For the first time in sporting history, this year’s boat race will not take place between traditional rivals Oxford and Cambridge following the shock defeat of the Cambridge eight in yesterday’s semi-final. Instead Oxford will face the Guildford College of Art and Technology on the Thames this weekend.
Suspicions of match fixing had grown down the decades as the same two teams always made it to the final. But with so many journalists and government ministers coming from the top two universities, many were happy just to leave things as they were. However, a few of the newer universities were becoming determined not to tolerate the old gentlemen’s agreement between vice-chancellors that had previously left the annual Easter Saturday rivalry intact.
In the first of this year’s semi-finals the University of the M4 Corridor (formerly Bracknell Polytechnic) easily beat Oxford but were later disqualified for allowing competitors ‘doing Media Studies and other Mickey Mouse degrees’. However scenes of chaos erupted on the River Lea after the Cambridge boat starting taking on water. Rather than offering their boat to their rivals and then drowning, Guildford Technology College slipped past the floundering Cambridge crew and went on to win the race. The Dean of Cambridge has expressed outrage after Guildford refused a rematch and all gentlemanly offers to settle the semi-final by means of a Classics quiz in Latin. Although Cambridge has always denied awarding scholarships based purely on rowing ability the Dean was later overhead to mutter ‘Now I’ve got to award a degree to an eighteen stone thicko from South Africa for nothing!”.
The Vice Chancellor of Oxford however was relishing the new look final; ‘This shows that the days of privilege and favouritism are gone forever. Although it’s only fair that the Oxford chaps are allowed to attach an outboard motor on Saturday.’