New sponsor for Varsity Matches and a spring date for Twickenham return
Cambridge University and Oxford will resume Varsity Match hostilities at Twickenham next year, with the support of a new headline sponsor.
Investment banking firm Jefferies, which has its headquarters in the US, will be backing the annual clash between the two institutions, starting in 2022 when the men’s match will celebrate its 150th anniversary and the 35th women’s game.
But they will both be staged at a new time in the calendar, and back at England rugby’s HQ. This year’s Varsity Matches were impacted by the pandemic, and held at Leicester Tigers’ Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium under adapted rules.
In 2022, the men’s and women’s games will be moved from their traditional pre-Christmas time slot to the spring, with the exact date to be confirmed.
The decision was made in a bid to capture a new audience, and will be on a Saturday after the Six Nations.
“This sponsorship deal couldn’t have come at a better time as it will provide us with new impetus as we make a key strategic move in the timings of our matches,” said Tim Jones, the chairman of the Varsity Match Company.
“November and December have become over-crowded with international matches and it has become harder and harder for people to take time off during the normal working week to attend Twickenham on a Thursday.
“Through our new partnership with Jefferies we believe we will be able to better promote not only our 150th anniversary, but also our move to the springtime. This is a major boost for our two showpiece matches and will add extra lustre to our celebration game at Twickenham in 2022.
“This is a major boost for our two showpiece matches and will add extra lustre to our celebration game at Twickenham in 2022.
“The men’s fixture has had a long association with financial backers dating back to 1976, when the Bowring Group first became involved. As well as providing us with some financial security, the deal also
fills us with confidence about the direction in which we are moving with our fixtures.
“Having added the women’s match to our big day out at Twickenham in 2015, we now offer a double dose of excitement every year. While we are hugely proud of the 150 year rivalry between the two
universities, we also realise we have to move with the times to ensure we continue to provide the best possible student rugby experiences for the players at both Oxford and Cambridge.
“We are hugely appreciative of the backing provided by Jefferies and look forward to working with them over the course of this deal and, hopefully, long into the future.”
Jefferies is described as the largest independent, global, full-service investment banking firm, and a leader in providing insight, expertise and execution to investors, companies and governments.
Ed Keen, head of equities EMEA at Jefferies, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Varsity Matches. When discussing the sponsorship, it very quickly became clear that these historic fixtures represented an outstanding fit for the culture and values.
“In particular, the Varsity Matches are champions for diversity and inclusion in sport, including gender equality through their work as strong advocates for women’s rugby.
“As partners, we look forward to working with the Varsity Matches to create positive social change and increase career opportunities in financial services, through the power of sport.”