Varsity fixtures take place against Cambridge. Whether the team involved is the Rugby XV playing at Twickenham in front of a 30,000 strong crowd or a 3rd XI in front of their friends and family, the Varsity match is still the most important fixture in any Oxford team’s calendar. The training and hard work that go into the run up to Varsity are exemplary.
The man who began the Varsity match tradition was Charles Wordsworth of Christ Church college Oxford, who in June 1827 arranged a two-day cricket match against Cambridge at Lords.
The first Boat Race between the two universities was 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 now sportsmen, who have represented Oxford in a Varsity match against Cambridge in a Full Blue sport, are entitled to wear a dark blue blazer.
There are many different Varsity Matches (men’s and women’s) with new ones being added each year, one of the most recent being Mixed Lacrosse and Lifesaving.