Blue Blood: a history of the world-famous Oxbridge rivalry

The Boat Race may have relocated from London to Cambridgeshire this year. But the rivalry still runs deep...

The Boat Race is back — but not as we know. Returning to our waters in these strange times, the traditionally West London-based rowing race has decamped to an eerily straight stretch of the Ouse in Cambridge in 2021, largely due to a crumbling Hammersmith Bridge and rules around social distancing.

Which means there will be none of the crazed hollering, warm Prosecco and overly sporty sunglasses of yesteryear; nor we will hear the famous — if vaguely non PC — Oxfordian cry of “I’d rather be a leper than a Tab”, or Cambridge’s own retort “Shove your Dreaming Spires up your arse” (both sung, by the way, to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.”)

And that’s a shame, really. It’s the tension, the rivalry, the gamesmanship and the fanaticism that really makes this race. Because these feelings are not just confected for one weekend in April. They run deep: 850 years deep, to be precise. Here’s our rundown of the bloodiest battlegrounds in the world’s oldest university rivalry.

Cambridge University

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