There are 40 boat clubs within the University: Four representative University clubs (Oxford University Boat Club, Oxford University Women’s Boat Club, Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club and Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club) and 36 College boat clubs, with over 3000 active members in total.
Each club is affiliated in its own right to British Rowing, the sport’s governing body. Together with local school and town clubs, the 40 clubs constitute Division TU-1 (Isis-Cherwell) of British Rowing. A Divisional Representative serves to facilitate direct communication between the clubs and British Rowing and to represent the interests of the Division on the Regional Rowing Council British Rowing (National) Council.
The 40 College and University clubs together form a confederation known as Oxford University Rowing Clubs (OURCs). OURCs exists to organise inter-collegiate competitions (such as the Autumn Fours, the Isis Winter League, Torpids, and Summer Eights) and to maintain local rules governing conduct and safety on the Isis and other waterways used by the constituent clubs, such as operating a ‘flag’ system in collaboration with the Environment Agency to restrict rowing in adverse conditions, and controlling the number of boats on the river at any one time to prevent overcrowding. The OURCs Committee consists of the Chair (who will be one of the Presidents of the four University Boat Clubs), four officers and up to fifteen ordinary members appointed by the Secretary and ratified by the representatives of college boat clubs from their membership, a sabbatical officer, a Senior Treasurer, and a Senior Member.
The sabbatical officer (‘RowSab’) is employed by the University to take on a large part of the administration associated with OURCs activities and to help the constituent clubs to comply with the safety requirements and recommendations of British Rowing, the Environment Agency, and the University. The cost of employing the RowSab is shared equally between OURCs (which charges each of the constituent colleges an affiliation fee to cover this salary) and the University Sports Department.
Every University club, including OURCs, has a Senior Member - an eligible member of the University’s academic or administrative staff through whom the club is accountable to the College (where applicable), the University’s Director of Sport, and ultimately the Proctors (who oversee compliance with the University Statutes).
The Director of Sport oversees the activities of all registered sports clubs within the University. He is assisted by a Sports Safety Officer who is responsible for ensuring that all University sporting activities including rowing are carried out in accordance with the safety guidelines laid down by the respective sporting governing bodies, as required by the University.
Overseeing the entire structure is the Council for Oxford University Rowing. COUR consists of representatives and Senior Members of the four University Rowing Clubs, the OURCs Secretary, Sabbatical Officer and Senior Member, the British Rowing Divisional representative, the University’s Director of Sport, the University Sports Safety officer, and the Senior Proctor. The Captain of Coxes and an elected representative of the college captains are also invited to attend meetings. COUR serves as a single point of contact between the Director of Sport and the Proctors on one hand and the 40 rowing clubs collectively on the other. COUR’s primary remit is to oversee safety and it reports to the University Sports Safety Sub-Committee. It meets once per term, and the chairmanship rotates amongst the COUR Senior Members annually.