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Varsity Matches

The Varsity Matches

Every year, Varsity fixtures take place in most competitive sports between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The fixtures have a long history, some of which is outlined below. The fixtures are often hosted alternatively at Oxford and Cambridge, but some are played at neutral venues where students have been lucky enough to play at some of the top sporting venues in the country.

A brief history

The man who began the Varsity match tradition was Charles Wordsworth of Christ Church, Oxford, who in June 1827 arranged a two-day cricket match against Cambridge at Lords. The first Boat Race between the two universities followed in 1829, and was rowed over 2 and a quarter miles between Hambleden Lock and Henley Bridge. The second Boat Race was not until 1836 which was rowed over more than double the distance, from Westminster Bridge upstream to Putney Bridge.

It was in this race that one of the Cambridge oarsmen tied a light blue ribbon to the bows of the Cambridge boat (the colours of his school, Eton College). The colour dark blue was then ascribed to Oxford because it is the colour of Christ Church College, and the Oxford crew sported white jerseys with dark blue stripes during the race. These colours have remained over the years and even now student-athletes represent Oxford in dark blue and Cambridge in light blue, with first teams in both institutions generally known as 'the blues' in most competitive sports. 

Those student-athletes who have represented Cambridge in a Varsity match against Oxford in certain sports (and achieved the criteria within their sport) are deemed to have achieved a 'blue' or ‘half blue’.


The Varsity Matches are now played across 50 different sports from Archery to Yacht racing and involves thousands of Oxford and Cambridge student’s.

Results from this year and recent results can be found by following the links on this page. For the full history of a club it is worth looking at their specific websites.