There were plenty of old faces from the inaugural Women’s Varsity Match as former players gathered pitchside to welcome the current teams onto the Twickenham turf for the 30th anniversary match.
Heading up the two guards of honour were the captains from 30 years ago, Cambridge’s Sophia Mirchandani (nee Peggers) and Oxford’s Heather Lawrence (nee Bunting). Some of their team mates had flown in from as far afield as the United States to take part in the celebration.
“It is really surreal to see the two teams running out here at Twickenham, truly amazing. The 30 years have flown by and we never gave a second thought to where the fixture might end up when we started it in 1988,” said Mirchandani.
“It was hard enough getting one team together to represent the university back then, but now there is a full bench of replacements and there are teams throughout the colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge. It is remarkable how far the game has come in 30 years.”
Cambridge won the first fixture at Iffley Road, wearing red and blue shirts because they weren’t allowed to play in Light Blue, and 30 years on they came up with another triumph to successfully defend their title.
“Everyone one of the old girls who turned up today felt so proud of the two teams playing out there at Twickenham. Our first fixture started at about the time women’s rugby began to take off in the UK,” said the former Oxford skipper, Bunting.
“The initial idea was to play a one-off game and I don’t think any of us thought it would still be going 30 years later. And as for the game being played at Twickenham, it is just incredible!”
The annual award for the player of the match in the Women’s Varsity Match is named after the two inaugural captains and has been presented since 2015, when they game was switched to Twickenham.
This year’s winner of the Bunting-Peggars medal was Cambrdge’s Amelia Miller (Downing).
The Varsity Match would like to thank partners Hill for their support of this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations.
The dates for next year’s Varsity Matches has already been confirmed for Thursday 12 December 2019 at Twickenham Stadium. Ticket information will be released soon.