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Varsity Match between Cambridge and Oxford at Twickenham to be postponed until 2021

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Cambridge women win the 2019 Varsity Match at Twickenham. Picture: Rich Marsham
Cambridge women win the 2019 Varsity Match at Twickenham. Picture: Rich Marsham

The 2020 Varsity Match will be postponed until next year.

The annual clash between Cambridge and Oxford at Twickenham is usually held in December, but given the current uncertainty it has been decided to move the date to later in the academic year.

A return for the community rugby game has still not yet been confirmed. Therefore, the men’s and women’s captains of Oxford and Cambridge have agreed to switch from the traditional date. It was due to be held on December 10 in 2020.

“We are all very aware of the difficulties that everyone is experiencing in these difficult times and both George (Messum, the Oxford captain) and I felt we had to make an early call on whether or not to commit to the original date for this year’s Varsity Match,” said Cambridge men’s captain Stephen Leonard.

Elisha Clark, the Light Blues’ women’s captain, said: “We all want our players to have the best chance to prepare properly for a match that is like no other in terms of its history and significance to both teams and their supporters.

“For most of the players, their biggest concern at the moment is when will they be able to get back onto campus and back to lectures.”

The extra time will make sure that all four teams will have ample opportunity to prepare thoroughly for the annual challenge.

The Varsity Match organisers were also mindful that the RFU is still to confirm plans for autumn internationals at Twickenham.

Tim Jones, chairman of the Varsity Match Company Ltd said: “With all the uncertainty surrounding amateur contact sport, crowds at Twickenham and the return to play for rugby at student level, everyone feels we have made the right decision to move the date of the game.

“We are currently looking at a date in March 2021 to stage the game.

“Talks are on-going with both clubs, the RFU and broadcasters to find the best possible day.

“The Varsity Match has an incredible history as being at the pinnacle of amateur rugby.

“It retains a strong following and continues to provide a vital financial lifeline to both clubs.

“It is important for both sides that the time and date are selected as soon as possible for the fixture given the current climate. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to determine these key points as soon as possible.

“We are currently agreeing contingency plans with the RFU for anyone who has purchased a ticket for December 10. We will be communicating with them with various options as soon as we agree on a new date.”

Cambridge men win the 2019 Varsity Match at Twickenham. Picture: Rich Marsham
Cambridge men win the 2019 Varsity Match at Twickenham. Picture: Rich Marsham

Cambridge did the double last year, winning the women’s match 8-5 and the men’s game 15-0.

The Twickenham double-header attracted a crowd of 22,863, and 2021 will be the centenary of the first match held at HQ.

Oxford men’s captain George Messum said: “We are hugely excited to see a change to the spring and what positive benefits this can have for the two Varsity fixtures.

“The additional time will enable all four teams to have greater preparation and produce a level of rugby that can match the physical intensity of any professional matches around.

“Combined with the traditional fierce rivalry between the two universities, this opportunity will only further enhance the overall event.

“By making this decision early, it allows our key stakeholders to be bold in planning an exciting an innovative event within the rugby calendar.”

Fiona Kennedy, Oxford women’s captain, said: “Moving the Varsity fixtures to the second half of the season provides an opportunity for us to build significant momentum towards the event through giving us extra preparation time to ensure that these historic fixtures can be played with an intense and exciting energy to match the occasion.

“This willingness to positively adapt the timing of the Varsity Matches demonstrates a desire to make the day a more exciting event as well as delivering greater preparation time for a highly anticipated contest, and Oxford will relish this opportunity to drive it to greater heights.”

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