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Martin Johnson has seen many great teams, players and events at his old stamping ground in Leicester. 

But the great captain of the Tigers, England and the British & Irish Lions can’t wait to witness one of the most historic fixtures in world rugby, the Varsity Match, come to the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium next month. 

The men’s Varsity Match dates back to 1872 and will celebrate its 150th birthday at Twickenham next year. Oxford and Cambridge last met pre-pandemic at the home of English rugby in December, 2019.  

They will pick up where they left off in Leicester on Sunday, 4 July, with the women’s match opening proceedings. Welford Road will become only the eighth venue at which the men’s match has been played. 

“The Varsity Match is one of the great fixtures in the rugby calendar and it will be fantastic to see it played here in Leicester,” said Johnson after meeting the four captains in Leicester. 

“We’ve had all the big touring teams here at Welford Road, we’ve hosted England matches and seen some great European matches. But this will be another feather in the cap of the stadium.” 

Johnson has seen at first hand the passion generated in recent Varsity Matches, both male and female, and is expecting another full-blooded contest next month when the two age old rivals meet for the 138th time. 

“It is a fixture that still means so much to those who are picked to play in it. I’m expecting another big contest and the fact the games will be played under the Law Variations will merely make it a greater spectacle,” added Johnson. 

“It will be fast and furious and there should be plenty of points and tries. Some might think rugby isn’t the same without scrums and mauls, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the coaches and players adapt their tactics. 

“It should be fun and the ball in play time should be very high.” 

Martin Johnson is an ambassador for Rhino Rugby – an official partner of The Varsity Matches.

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The Varsity Match Company Limited
Beech House
4a Newmarket Road
Cambridge
CB5 8DT
United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0)7442 490200

Registered No. 09272435
Founded. 2014