A varsity match is a sporting fixture between two university teams, particularly Oxford and Cambridge. The Scottish Varsity rugby match between the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh at Murrayfield stadium is claimed to be the oldest recurring varsity match in the world, having been played since the 1860s. However, it is predated by the University Match in Cricket between Oxford and Cambridge, which was first played in 1827.
Varsity in England
The country's longest-running series of varsity matches is played between the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, dating back, in addition to the 1827 University Match in Cricket mentioned above, to the first "Boat Race" in 1829 and the first "Varsity Match" (in Rugby Union) in 1872. Unusually for British university sporting events, both of these are shown on broadcast television. Unlike many more recent varsity competitions, the Oxford–Cambridge matches stand alone rather than being part of a wider multi-sport varsity competition.
British newspaper The Independent proposed in 2008 that Bath vs Loughborough was "the real varsity match" on the basis that these were the top two teams (at that time) in British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) competitions. Since 2015, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the successor to BUSA, has organised fixtures between Loughborough and Durham (the top two universities since 2011/12) to occur on the same day, in what has been termed the "BUCS Varsity".
A number of city and regional sporting rivalries exist between universities, which are also dubbed varsity matches. The Roses Tournament between the universities of York and Lancaster is one of the oldest and largest of these, dating back to 1965. It is frequently referred to as the largest inter-university sports tournament in Europe.
- Anglia Ruskin University vs University of East London
- Challenge Cup
- Bath Spa University vs University of Winchester
- Bradford University vs King's College London
- The Tolstoy Cup
- Camborne School of Mines vs Royal School of Mines
- The Bottle Match
- University of Cambridge vs University of Oxford – every sporting fixture between these two universities can be referred to as a varsity match; the most notable are:
- Durham University vs Loughborough University
- Durham University vs University of York
- College Varsity – between Durham colleges and York Colleges, started 2014 as a replacement for the White Rose Varsity
- James – Collingwood tournament annually between James College, York and Collingwood College, Durham since 2009.
- Josephine Butler – Langwith varsity: Annual home-and-away (York in the autumn, Durham in the summer) tournaments between Josephine Butler College, Durham and Langwith College, York held since 2013.
- Lancaster University vs University of York
- The Roses Tournament
- University of Leeds vs University of Liverpool vs University of Manchester
- The Christie Cup
- Leeds Beckett University vs Manchester Metropolitan University
- Battle of the North
- University of Sunderland vs York St John University
- Brunel University vs St Mary's University, Twickenham
- West London Varsity – Rugby, Football, Basketball, Netball and Cricket.
- City, University of London vs Kingston University London
- University of East London vs Middlesex University
- Goldsmiths, University of London vs University of the Arts London
- The Arts Cup – Basketball, Football, Hockey, Netball and Rugby
- Imperial College London vs Imperial College School of Medicine
- VarsityFest – Rugby, Hockey, Netball, Football, Lacrosse, Basketball, Tennis
- King's College London vs King's College London School of Medicine
- King's College London vs University College London
- University of London Colleges and Imperial College School of Medicine
- Queen Mary, University of London vs Queen Mary, University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
- University of West London vs University of Westminster
- West London Varsity
- Aston University vs Birmingham City University
- University of Birmingham vs University of Birmingham Medics
- University of Birmingham vs University of Warwick
- Coventry University vs University of Warwick
- Derby University vs University of Hertfordshire
- De Montfort University vs University of Leicester
- Keele University vs Staffordshire University
- Varsity (from 2001)
- Loughborough University vs University of Nottingham
- IMS Varsity – between intramural sports teams
- University of Nottingham vs Nottingham Trent University
- Durham University vs Newcastle University
- The Boat Race of the North – Rowing (since 1997)
- Newcastle University vs Northumbria University
- The Stan Calvert Cup (1994-2018)
- University of Sunderland vs University of Teesside
- University of Central Lancashire vs Edge Hill University
- University of Chester vs Salford University
- University of Liverpool vs Liverpool John Moores University
- Liverpool Varsity
- University of Manchester vs Manchester Metropolitan University
- University of Manchester vs University of Salford
- University of Bedfordshire vs University of Northampton
- University of Bournemouth vs Southampton Solent University
- University of Brighton vs University of Sussex
- Buckinghamshire New University vs University of Roehampton
- Canterbury Christ Church University vs University of Kent
- Canterbury Varsity
- University of Chichester vs University of Winchester
- Varsity
- Kingston University vs University of Surrey
- Varsity (2010 to 2016, replaced by Kingston vs City and Surrey vs Royal Holloway)
- Oxford Brookes University vs University of Reading
- University of Portsmouth vs University of Southampton
- Varsity Cup
- Royal Holloway, University of London vs University of Surrey
- University of Bath vs University of Exeter
- Rugby Varsity
- University of Bristol vs University of West England
- University of Plymouth vs University of St Mark & St John
- University of Worcester vs University of Gloucestershire
Yorkshire and the Humber
- University of Bradford vs University of Huddersfield
- University of Hull vs University of Teesside vs York St. John University
- The Tri-Varsity (ended 2008)
- University of Hull vs University of Lincoln
- The Humber Games – inaugurated in 2014 after Hull's annual series with York ended in acrimony in 2013.
- University of Hull vs University of York
- University of Leeds vs Leeds Beckett University
- University of Sheffield vs Sheffield Hallam University
- Sheffield Varsity (1996 – present)
- University of York vs York St. John University
Varsity in Ireland
- University College Dublin v. Trinity College Dublin
Varsity in Scotland
- University of Aberdeen v. Robert Gordon University
- University of Abertay Dundee v. University of Dundee
- The Tay Games Varsity Challenge
- Heriot-Watt University v. University of Edinburgh
- Varsity Quaich - Men’s Football, Men’s and Women’s Hockey, Men’s Rugby and Rowing
- University of Edinburgh v. University of St Andrews
- University of Edinburgh v. Glasgow University
- The Scottish Boat Race - Rowing
- University of the West of Scotland v. Edinburgh Napier University
- East vs West Varsity - Men's American Football, Mixed Badminton, Men's Basketball, Men's and Women's Hockey, Men's Rugby
- University of the West of Scotland v. Scottish Rural College v. Ayrshire College
- West Coast Varsity
Varsity in Wales
- Cardiff University v. Swansea University
- Aberystwyth University v. Bangor University
- Aberystwyth-Bangor Varsity
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Durham vs Loughborough on Wednesday 25th November is no ordinary day of University sport. It’s been christened a Varsity and it will have all the hallmarks of one – jam packed, competitive and hectic. However, in truth, it will be so much more than that.
Durham and Loughborough have topped the BUCS Points table every year since 2011/12 and it’s for that reason that the day takes on such significance. It will be a celebration of top-level University sport, crucial in the outcome of this year’s Premiership divisions and a veritable feast of sport for enthusiastic spectators.
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The sporting rivalry between the two counties has even filtered through to University life, with an annual sporting competition called the ‘Roses Tournament’ existing between University of York and Lancaster University. This tournament began in 1965 and has been described numerous times as the largest inter-university sports tournament in Europe.
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