Bishop and Blues

02 November 2006

TEA with the Bishop is an annual event for the Cambridge oarsmen and their coaches during their rigorous training for the Boat Race. It celebrates the historic link between the Church and Cambridge University Boat Club.

It began with the first Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in 1829. No less than 90 per cent of the Oxbridge men who took part in that race became priests of the Church of England. The treasured oar mounted over the clerical mantelpiece was as much an Anglican cliché in the 19th and first half of the 20th century as the bottle of sherry.

So far as I know, there are no theological students among those of this year' s oarsmen who recently had tea with the Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell ( right). Among them was the president of the Cambridge Boat Club, Tom Edwards (left), who is a Tasmanian doing research into medical genetics.

More than two dozen students are in training, out of whom eight and a cox will be selected in March for the race against Oxford on 2 April. Their training began last September, and they are putting in 16 to 18 hours a week, hoping to claim their 79th victory.

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