A Little History

The first record of a New College eight is in 1840, with another appearance in 1852. Only from 1868 did the college start to fully represent itself on the river. Since then, NCBC held Head of the River in Eights in 1887 and during most of the time between 1896 and 1904 (baring only 1900 and 1902). We head Torpids head in 1882, 1896, and during 1900-04.

It might be observed that NCBC's colours don't match those of the other New College sports teams. In fact there is a story about how we were supposed to have obtained our vibrant purple and gold, which it is tradition to pass on orally to every new generation of novices when they join. It goes as follows: In 1912, NCBC was chosen to represent Great Britain at the Summer Olympics in Stockholm. As it happened, there was another British crew made up of a mixture of Magdalen and Leander men, and both this crew and NCBC made their way to the final. Now the course in Stockholm actually had a clear discrepancy between its two lanes: one would require the cox to avoid a protruding boathouse. Thus, before the race, a toss was made for the lanes. New College won the toss, and following tradition, offered the choice of lanes to their opponents, who would - as gentlemen - refuse the offer. But the Leander-Magdalen crew instead took the offer and chose the better lane, going on to win the gold. The words of our stroke Robert Bourne as New College crossed the line in silver medal place remain today as the NCBC toast: 'God Damn Bloody Magdalen!'. It's said that King Gustav V of Sweden was so disheartened by the behaviour of the Leander-Magdalen crew towards NCBC that he presented, as consolation, the colours of the Swedish coat of arms to the club: purple and gold.


The club today regularly competes in the major Oxford University regattas such as the Christ Church Regatta for novice rowers, as well as Torpids and Summer VIIIs, the two bumps racing events that occur every Hilary and Trinity term respectively. Besides these, we typically represent at a number of non-university affiliated regattas during the year too like the men's and women's Head of the River Race in London, or Oxford City Bumps back on our home stretch. We also host the yearly New College Indoor Regatta: an erg-based relay competition - contact our Indoor Regatta secretary (see the Committee page) for more details about this.