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australian rowers profiles and history

Capt Mervyn B Higgins MC

Melbourne Rowing Club and Melbourne University Boat Club (VIC)

8 Nov 1887 -23 Dec 1916

1914 - Victorian Sculling Association Handicap Race 17 Oct 1914  - First

1910 - The Boat Race, Oxford, bow - First

Whilst Higgins was educated at Melbourne Grammar School which conducted rowing as a sport, there is no record of him in their first crew.

Higgins enlisted in WWI and served at Gallipoli and survived. However he was killed in action at El Magdhaba in Egypt on 23rd December 1916. He was a distinguished soldier having been promoted in the field to the rank of Captain.

In memory of his son, Mr. Justice H. B. Higgins (High Court of Australia), by deed of trust dated 10th May, 1918, founded the "Mervyn Bourne Higgins Memorial Trophy” for the Melbourne University Inter-Collegiate race.

John Lang in his book The Victorian Oarsman noted: Captain Higgins was an Ormond man, and subsequently of Balliol College, Oxford. He rowed in the winning Oxford crew in 1910. By the Trust Deed referred to, a sum of £500, given by Mr. Justice Higgins, is vested in the Heads of the University Colleges as trustees. Out of this sum a per­manent memorial trophy has been purchased, a book of the records of the race, engrossed ; while from interest on the balance of the sum a small trophy for each of the winning oarsmen will be provided. The College Boat Race was suspended during the War, though several unrecorded contests took place between some of the Colleges during that time. The 1919 contest was the first for the new Trophy.

Andrew Guerin
June 2021

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