Rowing / Boat Race: Oxford's outsiders learning to adapt: Hugh Matheson on an enduring Eton connection
'At school everyone had started from the same beginning and could be spoken to as a group and it was fairly authoritarian. Here there is a tremendous breadth of experience. There are Olympians from different countries, which raises the whole thing several notches,' Macmillan said. Mahne is still wary: 'One has to learn how to get on with people as different as this group. It is effortless being understood by one's peers, but not everyone here has the same cultural capital. It's easy to put people's backs up saying something which would be perfectly appropriate at home.'
It is hard to see either of these two as social misfits. Mahne spent part of his gap year working for the Tory MP Sir Jerry Wiggin as a secretary and researcher, but was also offered a job by Labour's Tony Blair. 'I'd have been just as happy working for him.' In spite of this endorsement, Mahne is more likely to stand for election within another Dark Blue crew than a red one. Now in his second year, he may well gain electoral experience standing for president of the Oxford Boat Club, which thirsts for firm leadership and rejuvenation.
Macmillan is in his last year and is unlikely to be back. He, too, is disarmingly fluent and, having spent most of his childhood in Rome where his father is an agronomist with the UN, can explain himself just as well in Italian. 'The coaches here can't just lay down the law. We all have a say.' And in spite of having less international experience than the others, he missed a junior world bronze by inches.'
Neither is an obsessed athlete. Each gives evidence that while rowing and winning are fun, there is also a life plan being worked out. As Mahne says: 'I didn't want to undersell myself when I was unready in my first year. This time, particularly after racing for Oxford in the summer, I knew I had a strong chance and went for it flat out.' They do not resent the increased competition for places since the huge rise in postgraduates through the Eighties. They feel they will be part of something better and more memorable.
One hundred years ago today, Oxford, with five Etonians, beat Cambridge, with six. This time, Cambridge has only one, Matthew Parish. But the race is unlikely to take the hint from history and Oxford will have to redraw their plans to avoid becoming a permanent underdog.
Latest in Sport
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...