Live streaming is a major idea to allow fans to watch the event.Instagram, @curufc

Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) recently released a survey testing the reaction of fans to the possibility of live-streaming this year’s Varsity matches.

In an Instagram post encouraging fans to fill in the short survey, CURUFC stressed: “the players are determined to play the Varsity Matches this season and we want to provide a spectacle for all our loyal supporters, which may only be possible through live-streaming.” The survey included questions asking respondents how much they would pay to watch individual matches. For example, whether they would pay £10 for the Women’s live stream and how much respondents would pay to watch both the Women’s and Men’s Varsity live streams.

Jeremy Macklin, Director of Two Blues Cambridge, told Varsity that so far there has been “very good feedback” from the survey. While acknowledging that “live-streaming is nothing like being at Twickenham”, Macklin feels that there are still “loyal supporters who would like to watch the Matches if they can’t attend as live spectators.”

“We want to provide a spectacle for all our loyal supporters, which may only be possible through live-streaming.”

Meanwhile, Men’s captain Stephen Leonard told Varsity: “the atmosphere present on the day of the Varsity Matches is always outstanding, and will be sorely missed for the upcoming fixtures. We are hoping the livestream will be able to have the same outreach as normal years, in which the match is live streamed on YouTube as well as the more well-known televised event.”

Leonard went on to recognise that “of course, for the supporters it will be an entirely different experience.” However, live streaming is a “major idea” if matches can’t go ahead, as “this allows those who follow the game with great passion to still view the event; which at this rate might just involve 30 players and the referee.”

Last year’s match, planned for December 10th, was postponed to the second half of the regular season to ensure that all four male and female teams were given adequate time to prepare since COVID-19 has significantly disrupted training schedules. When the postponement was initially announced, Tim Jones, chairman of the Varsity Match Company Ltd stated: “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.” Jones went on to detail that a date in March 2021 was being looked at to stage the game.

“2021 marks 100 years of the Varsity match taking place at Twickenham stadium.”

2021 marks 100 years of the Varsity match taking place at Twickenham stadium. When asked whether the matches are intended to take place at Twickenham this year, Macklin told Varsity that the matches keep being rearranged and that “the current plan is to hold them at Richmond… but this may change depending on when the players can come back to Cambridge.”


Mountain View

COVID-19 and Cambridge University Rugby Club

With regards to how the teams are preparing for the matches while not being in Cambridge, Leonard emphasised the teams’ current mindset: to act as if “these games are happening.” With this in mind, “players are striving to train to their utmost ability. Obviously, this means that we cannot train as a group or individually in gyms. However, we have remained flexible throughout the lockdown period(s) and our players deserve huge credit in continuing to work hard in a tumultuous period of their lives. There are only so many burpees you can do on your own before it gets upsetting.”

Macklin recognised that the “the pandemic is a real tragedy for tens of thousands of people in Britain, so it’s hard to compare the understandable huge frustration and disappointment of the players”. He also highlighted that “all Cambridge sports people can spend years preparing for their moment of engagement with the Dark Blues and we feel very sorry for them.”