Every year, Varsity fixtures take place in most competitive sports between the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. Whether the team involved is the Rugby Blues (first team) playing at Twickenham in front of a 20,000+ strong crowd, or a 3rd team playing in front of their friends and family, the Varsity match is often the most important fixture in any Oxford team’s calendar. The training and hard work that go into the run up to each Varsity fixture are a huge part of the sporting year at both institutions. For a full list of sports that compete in a varsity visit our Sports A to Z.
The History of Varsity
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 know as 'the blues' in most competitive sports. Those student-athletes who have represented Oxford in a Varsity match against Cambridge in a Full Blue sport (and acheived the criteria within their sport) are deemed to have acheived a 'blue' and are entitled to wear a dark blue blazer. For more details regarding earning a 'Blue' please visit our Blues Awards page.