The Varsity Rugby Match 2023 – 151st Anniversary Match

3pm kick off Sat 25th March 2023 at Twickenham (women’s kick-off 12noon)

This year Tony Flood has been named the Cambridge captain and he comes in as an ex-England player with a lot of experience. He is currently studying an Executive MBA at Queens’ College.

Cambridge is coming back after a loss last year so they have something to prove.

The first ever varsity match between Cambridge and Oxford was played in 1872 being 151 years ago and so this year’s rivalry could not be stronger.

Over the last 151years 139 matches have been played (some missed during the wars) and today the tally stands at CAMBRIDGE 64 – 61 OXFORD (14 draws). Not dissimilar to the boat race where Cambridge lead 85 to 80.

The varsity game has been played at lots of locations up to 1887 when it became a steady fixture at the Queen’s Club in Fulham. Then in 1921 it moved to Twickers where it has been held ever since.

In the early days it was played in December on a Tuesday then later on Thursdays’ but more recently moved to a much more convenient Saturday.

In the first match Oxford was in dark blue and Cambridge was in pink. Similar to the first ever boat race where Cambridge went with white and a diagonal pink stripe. However Cambridge adopted its light blue in 1876 starting the famous battle of the blues that carries on to this day.

The influence that the varsity game has had is considerable. Over 600 players from the varsity games have gone on to play for their country. It was the varsity matches that first reduced the size of the teams down from 20 players to 15 shaping the game as we know it.

Back to 2023 and both sides have played their international tours and local high profile fixtures leading up to this moment. They are focused on winning.

Can you imagine …. Being one of these men or women proudly wearing your blue blazer around University since the start of the academic year. All those training sessions and all those hours on the team bus. The league scouts in the stands waiting to see what performance you can put on. It all comes down to that moment when your boots are on and you’re about to run onto the hallowed pitch at Twickenham. It’s not about you. It’s about that team you know so well around you.


Article by Anthony Dean
Cambridge Bike Tours

Go to Twickenham and watch the game with the other 25,000 people. You can buy your ticket for the event here

Alternatively if you want to watch the game in a great pub in Cambridge here are our top choices:-

1.     The Alma – Russell Court
This is one of the most famous rugby pubs in Cambridge. Large screen. Can get very busy

2.     The Grain & Hop Store – 69 Regent Street
This is a large chain pub but it does have a large screen.

3.     The Waterman – 32 Chesterton Road
Has a unique style and screens inside and out. Independent and contemporary

4.     Cambridge Brewhouse – 1 King Street
Microbrewery with a dedicated locker-room for sport.

5.     The Champion of The Thames – 68 King Street
Small pub with small screens but a big atmosphere.

6.     King Street Run – 86 King Street
Quirky pub with lots of screens

7.     White Swan – 107 Mill Road
Out of the very centre of town but worth the walk

Buy the authentic Cambridge varsity kit here:-

If you are a blue buy your kit here:-

Buy a book on the subject here:

Sources and further reading:-