Having bridged an unprecedented 18-month peace-time break between Varsity Matches at Leicester last Sunday, plans are now being put in place for the 150th Anniversary game between Oxford and Cambridge in 2022. The next fixtures won’t be played in the traditional December window this year. It has been decided to shift the games to later in the season as we open a new chapter in the history of the Varsity Matches. This means the 2022 Varsity Matches, which will include the historic 150th Anniversary of the first men’s match, will be played in April – with Saturday 2nd April the preferred date.
The decision to move the matches to a new date in the spring has come after a lot of discussion and evaluation, according to Tim Jones, Chairman of Varsity Match Company Ltd. “The world of work has changed significantly since the big crowds of the 1990s, as has the world of rugby. We wanted to reposition the Varsity Matches at a time of year, and on a day of the week, which would allow it to welcome even more alumni and fans of top-class amateur rugby,” said Jones. “After in-depth research last summer, it became clear that a Saturday in the springtime was more favourable both to our core supporters and to the broader rugby communities.
With the 2020/21 season Varsity Matches being played in July this year because of the pandemic, it also made sense to make that change for next season and we are just finalising the details with the Twickenham team.” A return to the home of English rugby is the preferred option for 2022 and is subject to finalising contractual arrangements. Twickenham would be the perfect setting for the celebration of one of world rugby’s greatest amateur matches. Oxford and Cambridge first met there in 1921 and had played every game there since then until the switch to Welford Road last Sunday.
There was a noisy, COVID-restricted crowd in Leicester to see Cambridge win the women’s match 10-5 to hang onto their title, while the Dark Blues won the men’s match 34-7. The first men’s match was played at The Parks, Oxford, on Saturday, 10 February, 1872, with the home side winning in a 20-a-side game. Oxford’s win at Leicester in the 2021 game cut the Cambridge lead in the men’s series to 64-61 with 14 games drawn. “When we asked our key supporters, they were all in favour of a move to a Saturday in the springtime when we are likely to have more clement weather and fans will find it easier to attend,” added John Webster, chairman of Oxford University RFC. Please keep an eye out for future emails or news on the OURFC website for when tickets go on sale.