The origins of rowing within the University are shrouded by mystery as few records were kept. The story is that an interest in the sport was encouraged by men from the Old Country and that the University Boat Club was initiated in 1860. One of the early records shows a competition between Sydney and Melbourne universities on the Parramata River in fours in 1863. History records that race over 4 miles in fours was won by Melbourne in 31 minutes.
It was not till 1870 that official Intervarsity competition began with a meeting of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on the 3.5 mile Yarra course, once again in fours. Melbourne won this first official encounter and it is worthy of note that Edmund Barton, (30 years later to become Australias 1st Prime Minister) rowed in the Sydney crew.
These early university races are the first recorded interstate competition in the sport of rowing. Interest waned and regular competition in Intervarsity did not get underway until 1888 and since then has been held every year with the exception of 1915-18 and 1940-45. (and subsequently in 1965).
In 1896 a group of Oxford and Cambridge rowing enthusiasts (all of them Old Blues of these universities) presented the Australian University Boat Clubs with the magnificent Oxford and Cambridge Cup for Intervarsity Eight Oared competition. The historic value and intricate work of this wonderful trophy make it unique in University competition and in Australian Sport.
Until 1920 the Intervarsity race in eights was conducted between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide universities at which time they were joined by Queensland. Tasmania followed in 1924 and Western Australia in 1927.
Until 1948 Sydney had won 22 times, Melbourne 20, Adelaide 5, Western Australia 4, Queensland 2 and Tasmania 1.
By 1920 Sydney University rowing was being conducted from their shed at Glebe but this shed was resumed when the lease expired during World War II and was subsequently demolished. At the time of the article in 1948 and until 1964 SUBC relied on the generosity of other Sydeny rowing clubs to host their crews and equipment.
At the time of the article (1948) Sydney University Boat Club had won the previous two (1946, 1947) Intervarsity Eights and had finished 2nd to Haberfield in the Sate Champion Eights in those years. The article expressed hope that a new shed would be soon built on Battersea Park between Sydney and Newington boatsheds.