This year’s games, played in July, saw Cambridge’s women win 10-5, while Oxford’s men cruised to a 34-7 victoryLevente Koroes/Twitter

Jefferies this afternoon (14/09) announced themselves to be the new title sponsor for the Varsity Matches, the annual Rugby Union fixtures between Cambridge University and Oxford University.

Jefferies Group LLC is the largest independent, global, full-service investment banking firm headquartered in the USA, whose market value has soared over the past year. With the new sponsorship agreement, Jefferies sets out to “create positive social change and increase career opportunities in financial services” using the historic platform of ‘the Battle of the Blues’.

Ed Keen, Head of Equities EMEA at Jefferies, commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Varsity Matches [... They] are champions for diversity and inclusion in sport, including gender equality through their work as strong advocates for women’s rugby.” Since 2015, Twickenham has hosted both the men’s and women’s fixtures on the same day. This year’s games, however, were played at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road Stadium, instead of Twickenham due to Covid-19 restrictions, where Cambridge’s women and Oxford’s men emerged victorious respectively.

As part of the sponsorship, both Jefferies and the Varsity Matches will collaborate on a series of social initiatives, including the promotion of higher education for students in disadvantaged communities, LGBTQ+ awareness campaigns to expand ally networks, and partnering with Leonard Cheshire, a charity that supports independent living and working for people of varying abilities.

The pair will also be continuing their work with Whale and Dolphin Conservation on projects aiming to increase recognition of sustainability, such as a global campaign to save New Zealand dolphins from extinction and the damaging issue of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Speaking on the announcement, Chairman of Varsity Match Company Tim Jones explained that “this is a major boost for our two showpiece matches and will add extra lustre to our celebration game at Twickenham in 2022.” He added: “Whilst we are incredibly proud of the 150-year rivalry between the two universities, we also realise we have to continue to evolve to ensure we provide the best possible student rugby experiences for the players at both Oxford and Cambridge.”


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Live: Varsity Rugby Matches 2021

In addition to the new sponsorship, next year’s Varsity fixtures will take place on a Saturday after the Six Nations Championship in March. The games have previously been played on a Thursday in December since 2007, but calls for rescheduling came in the wake of this year’s event held in July.

Subsequently, it was announced in the same month that the Varsity Matches will be switched to the spring of 2022, with Jones hailing the change: “We wanted to reposition the Varsity Matches at a time of year, and on a day of the week, which would allow it to welcome even more alumni and fans of top-class amateur rugby.”

Looking ahead to next year’s event, fixtures will mark the 150th anniversary of the first meeting between the two men’s sides, which occurred at the University Parks in Oxford on 10 February, 1872. The current men’s Varsity series stands at 64-61 narrowly in favour of Cambridge, with fourteen matches drawn. Meanwhile, Oxford leads the women’s competition 21-13, dating back to 1988.