The Varsity Match: Engagement Visits to Cambridge and Oxford

February 23, 2018
“The trip was an enlightening experience in regard to the pathway university can take you down.” – Nauman, Young Leader, Cambridge Visit

Did you know?

The Varsity Match is an annual rugby competition between two of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world: the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The fixture dates back to 1872 and, since 1921, the game has been played at the iconic Twickenham Stadium, the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world. The only time when the official Varsity Match was not played was during wartime, although a series of matches were played during the Second World War, resulting in nine wins for Cambridge, two wins for Oxford and one draw.

Some Interesting facts

Cambridge University men’s team beat the Oxford University men’s team at Twickenham, winning the 2017 Varsity Match; in doing so, Cambridge extends their overall tally to 63 men’s wins, maintaining the lead. Oxford University has 59 men’s wins. From 136 matches between the two sides, 14 games have ended in draws. However, the Cambridge University women’s team has only 11 wins compared to 19 wins for the Oxford University women’s team.

The Inspire to Aspire Programme, in partnership with the Varsity Match

In 2017, the Varsity Match partnered with SportInspired to create an ambitious programme using the power of rugby to inspire deprived young people from London to aspire to a higher goal: to study at one of the two most high profile universities in the world. Over the course of 6 months we provided life and employability skills training sessions to our Young Leaders who then went on to lead and facilitate a full day tournament alongside the main Varsity Match, under the close watch of our business volunteers and the SportInspired Team.

A total number of 93 Young Leaders were involved in our programme, from Heathland School and St Marks Catholic School in Hounslow, and Jo Richardson Community School in Barking & Dagenham. From the beginning, we were focused on conducting leadership training sessions, helping our Young Leaders to develop employability skills, plus a sense of purpose and social inclusion.

The training sessions were based on two major drivers: the job market’s current expectations and the outcomes of attending Higher Education, making sure that our Young Leaders develop a futureproof skillset. We concentrated on helping them develop great communication skills and a high level of confidence, planning and organisational skills and problem-solving and decision-making ability.

The Legacy

After the Inspire to Aspire Festival, our team was actively engaged in the delivery of our Legacy work, which saw our Young Leaders participating in Engagement Visits to the two universities earlier this year.

The desired outcomes of the Cambridge and Oxford Visits

  • Building from an early stage the Young Leaders’ aspirations to study at Higher Education level. We know that making the decision to go to university (particularly Oxbridge) can be a challenging; therefore, we want to ensure our Young Leaders are in possession of all the info and inspiration they need. During our visits our young leaders experienced how interesting and exciting the university environment can be, and were able to hear directly from current students
  • Understanding the importance of sport and how it might feature in future education and career plans. Helping Young Leaders with soft skills like communication, leadership, and confidence is essential for us, as is giving them a sense of focus and self-discipline, values highlighted throughout our Inspire to Aspire programme.
The trip to Oxford inspired me to work harder to be able to get into a good uni” – Simarleen, Young Leader, Oxford Visit


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