Varsity Rugby Match | University of Oxford
Varsity rugby match
Varsity rugby match
Credit: John Gaisford

Varsity Rugby Match

Rugby has a long history at Oxford. William Webb Ellis, the founder of the sport, was a student at Brasenose College. The Oxford University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) was founded in 1869, fifteen months before the foundation of the Rugby Union in 1871, and is regarded as the oldest club in this country.

In the run-up to the Varsity match, the Oxford Blues compete against top quality opposition. The highlight of the build-up is the match versus Major Stanley’s team. Once used as a trial for the England XV, Major Stanley's is named after the selector who first acquired Iffley Road for the use of OURFC.

The sole focus of Oxford and Cambridge University rugby teams is to win the MMC Trophy (originally known as the Bowring Bowl) and the title of Varsity holders. In February 1872 the first ever Varsity match was played in Oxford at the University Parks. The following year  the return match was played in Cambridge on Parkers Piece. In 1877 it was decided to move the match to a neutral ground and the Kennington Oval - scene of England’s first home international fixture the previous year - was chosen. The game had a number of different venues, each offering the current best facilities. In December 1921 it was moved to the Rugby Football Union’s ground at Twickenham, where it has been played ever since. 


Oxford won the first Varsity Rugby match. In the 131 times the men's match has been played, Cambridge have won 61 times and Oxford 58. There have been 15 draws, the most recent being 2003 (11-11). Most recently, the 2015 Varsity matches took place on 10th December. For the first time, the women's and men's matches were played on the same day at the same ground, Twickenham. In the men's match, Oxford won 12-6, and in the women's match, Cambridge won 52-0.

Famous Blues

Over the years, more than 600 players from either Oxford or Cambridge have gained international honours.

Some famous Oxford Blues include:

NameYear PlayedCountry
Will Johnson2009USA
Stan McKeen2008Canada
Anton Oliver2008New Zealand
Kevin Tkachuk2001Canada
Simon Danielli2000Scotland
David Humphries1996Ireland
Phil De Glanville1990England
Troy Coker1988/89Australia
Rob Egerton1987/88Australia
David Kirk1987/88New Zealand
Victor Ubogu1987England
Stuart Barnes1981/82/83England
Simon Halliday1979/80/81England