[CUCBC Captains] Bumps entries - 24 hours left!

Thomas Walton cuwbc at cucbc.org
Thu May 14 22:09:32 BST 2009

Dear all

this seems to be a term for bringing various issues to a head. The purpose of this message is to give a 'heads up' that I intend to produce shortly a discussion document for captains on the two subjects of 'exceptional rowers' and reciprocal eligibility for town and college rowing clubs. In due course and after discussion of these, I would hope to be able to bring a set of guiding principles on these to a confirmatory vote by captains. Some brief notes on these follow, which will be worth your reading to ensure your bumps crews this term do not contain any ineligible rowers. Please note this message is not intended to cover either issue exhaustively.

A basic point underlying both issues is that clubs need to realise is that, for any competition
which runs on a 'club' basis, it is up to the club to ensure that it
develops and trains enough members to fill the required number of seats
(including cox) in the boats to be entered. The fundamental premise of most CUCBC competitions is that they are inter-collegiate. However, eligibility issues not only apply to
CUCBC competitions, but to most regattas (ie ARA), and where composite
crews are permitted they are named as such on the entry. It is also the case more widely that ARA are enforcing membership and eligiblity requirements with more vigour. If clubs cannot fulfill this requirement, the end result is they have to accept that they cannot enter the affected crew.

1) 'Exceptional' rowers. This point is stimulated because there seems to have been a remarkable number of requests for these this term. This leads to an impression that there is some desperation to fill crews by any means, and hence retain places. As with several areas of current practice, 'exceptional' eligibility is largely defined by precedent, although has to the best of my knowledge been applied consistently over time, and the 'status quo' interpretation of these has been applied this term. It is also the case that there is currently no explicit statement as to how many 'exceptionals' can be included in a single crew - as a rule of thumb we currently specify a maximum of two. As the length of the following text will quickly indicate, it would be difficult to compose all-encompassing rules!

In brief, there are two categories of club members that are required to be declared under our current rules, but who are 'automatically' eligible once declared: these are (i) College Fellows (automatically eligible for 2nd boat or lower; also eligible as 'exceptional' in the only crew of a small club, and possibly in the first crew of a club where starting position is below 3rd division), (ii) students who have different undergrad and postgrad colleges (who need to declare which college they will row for on a termly basis).

There are several other general categories of exceptional that have been recognised by precedent. (i) exchange students of various sorts, ie those from another University who are in Cambridge on a recognised course or exchange visit as part of their degree studies. These are treated as normal students, and may nominate a single college club to row for in their stay here, and are not limited as to which crew they may be placed in. (ii) College employees, who may be permitted to row in any boat other than the club's first crew (exceptionally in a first crew if that is the club's only boat, and/or is below 3rd division), (iii) students from a different college, who may be permitted to row in a club's lowest boat, but only if the source college confirms they have no requirement for the person concerned, AND if the receiving college is not denying one of its own members a place by bringing in the external rower. Note that we generally give more flexibility to
 requests for coxing positions (on safety grounds, and this has explicitly been considered previously by captains), and to clubs who only field a single crew or whose top crew is below 3rd division.

Finally, there are categories that come up frequently as requests, but who on precedent are not eligible. These include (i) partners/spouses/friends etc of club members, who are not eligible under any circumstance unless they themselves have a bona fide college connection to that club (the one exception to this that I am aware of being a College Master's wife!), (ii) students from one college who for some reason have learnt to row at another (usually because they like someone at the latter or don't like someone at the former), again not eligible under any circumstances, (iii) people who may or may not be former college students, but who are simply working in the local area (including for the University rather than with a College attachment), again not eligible under any circumstances.

2) Town-gown eligibility.

The question of whether someone can be an active member at the same time of both a town and a college club is also coming up more frequently. Again, current practice is set mostly by history and precedent, and is driven by the fact that CRA has very strict rules that in effect ensure that people who have competed in any given year for a student club cannot compete for a CRA club in Town Bumps, and that student clubs cannot affiliate to CRA and hence enter their 'closed' events. As a basic principle, within this local and national environment, it would seem reasonable that individuals have to make a decision as to which club they wish to be a member of. It would also seem unreasonable in a local context that CRA clubs can appear to view student clubs as easy sources of good rowers, in a way that they certainly can't view other CRA clubs!

Thus the current practice that we have is that, in any given term, if a student trains, regularly for or competes with a town club, or uses town club membership to take part in outings (including sculling) that intentionally take place in 'student restricted' hours, then they make themselves ineligible for CUCBC competitions that term, even as a substitute. Occasional outings as a substitute (including for a race in an 'emergency') are accepted, reciprocally by both organisations.

The one recognised exception to this mutual ineligibilty refers to a person who originally learnt to row with a town club in the local area, before becoming a student, who is accepted as being eligible to compete for both in any given time period. To date this has always referred to someone who grew up locally, and not to someone who learnt to row (student or town) as an adult before subsequently switching community, or switching back. I am aware that the latter is an issue that applies to some individuals this term, and will have to make a pragmatic decision on these cases.

Other than the current general principle, this area of town-gown eligiblity in particular has not been subject to detailed discussion amongst our captains in recent years, and this does need to be rectified. However, as this cannot realistically start to happen, or a confirmed new position be taken, until the next captains meeting, we have continued to apply the existing practice for individuals brought to our attention as requests this term. I would note that 'gossip' suggests that there may be undeclared individuals rowing in college crews who risk breaching current practice, and hence there is a risk that if they are brought to our attention near to the races they may be disqualified, so I would urge captains to declare such rowers.

Thoughts on all of this would be appreciated in due course

(CUCBC Chair)
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