Keep Your Distance; Umpire Ready to Crack Down If Coxes Steer into Trouble
Byline: ALAN FRASER
LIKE a convention of European bankers, all the talk on the Tideway this week has been of convergence.
The frequent coming-together of the Cambridge and Oxford crews last year was not so much a meeting of brilliant minds as a clash of personalities - and one which officialdom is determined to prevent this time round.
'It was terrible, a disgrace,' Oxford coach Sean Bowden said of the aggressive, in-your-blades tactics carried out by Light Blue cox Kevin Whyman in 1997. 'Cambridge should have been disqualified.' Alex Greaney, the vanquished Oxford cox who returns to steer another day, disagreed. 'I thought Kevin did a fantastic job.
He got the better of me, fair and square,' Greaney said.
The two differing stances from within the Dark Blue camp represent the contrasting opinions of last year's race. The jousting made for great television, even great radio, but it was bad form in the eyes of authority.
The appointment of Mike Sweeney as umpire was indicative of the official position and his briefings for this, his sixth race, have left no-one - certainly not the coxswains - in any doubt that a repeat will not be tolerated.
'If the coxswains do not respond, they are courting disaster,' Sweeney stated. …