Sydney faces Melbourne in first Australian Boat Race in three years

Olympic rower Tara Rigney and members of the 2022 Australian Senior Rowing Team will take up oars for the University of Sydney on Sunday, October 16, marking the first Australian Boat Race after three years of COVID-related cancellations.

After three years of pandemic-related cancellations, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne are reigniting their 160-year-old rivalry in the Australian Boat Race.

The men’s and women’s rowing eights will battle it out on the Sydney Harbour course, racing four-and-a-half kilometres from Woolwich to Darling Harbour on Sunday, October 16.

Spectators will witness inspiring athleticism from two of Australia’s most successful rowing clubs. In its 12-race history, Sydney currently holds nine wins and Melbourne two for the Men’s Eight’s Edmund Barton Trophy. In the Women’s Eight’s Bella Guerin Trophy, Sydney has three wins and Melbourne eight.

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The Australian Boat Race is back after three years of COVID-related interruptions.

This year the University of Sydney team includes Olympian Tara Rigney, who competed at Tokyo in 2021.

“Our Sydney crew is keen and ready to go up against our peers at Melbourne University. It’s one of our most exciting traditions and after three long years, our anticipation is higher than ever,” said Ms Rigney. “I competed on the same team as some of the athletes from Melbourne University at the World Championships this year, so I’m excited to return home for some tough competition and to represent Sydney once more.”

Sydney University Boat Club head coach Don McLachlan said it would be a race to remember.

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“It’s fantastic to race Melbourne in a one-on-one race, which adds to the excitement.”

“The unique and iconic Australian Boat Race showcases the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne’s stunning vistas. It’s fantastic to race Melbourne in a one-on-one race, which adds to the excitement,” said Mr McLachlan.

“We look forward to welcoming their Men and Women’s eights to our home waters in Sydney to continue our friendly-but-fierce rivalry.”

The long-standing tradition between Australia’s two oldest universities is based on the famous Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race, an annual competition featuring current and alumni rowers.

“Our Sydney crew is keen and ready to go up against our peers at Melbourne University. It’s one of our most exciting traditions and after three long years, our anticipation is higher than ever.”

Tara Rigney

In 1860 the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne rowing clubs met informally on the Yarra River in Melbourne, then by 1870, they regularly competed together with Adelaide University.

The Australian race was born in 2009 when the first Australian Boat Race was contested as a time trial at the long-running Head of the Yarra rowing regatta. After the fiercely competed race, the Sydney and Melbourne Vice-Chancellors agreed to hold an annual competition called the ‘match race’ between their teams, which became the famous Boat Race.

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University of Sydney spectators enjoyed the fun at the 2019 Australian Boat Race.

The last race took place before the pandemic in 2019. After a long wait, the University’s alumni, students, community and sporting talents are looking forward to a nail-biting event.

Spectators can register at The Australian Boat Race’s website to watch the race from the ICC Forecourt.

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