The Women’s Varsity Match between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge was first played on 10th March 1988 at Iffley Road, Oxford. The captains that day, Heather Lawrence (nee Bunting) and Sophia Mirchandani (nee Pegers), were keen rugby fans and were responsible for setting up a women’s team to compete against ‘the Other Place’ as at the time, there was no women’s rugby at either university.
They set out to find like-minded, adventurous types who would be interested in trying something different and ran fundraising events to raise the profile of the teams. It was a last-gasp try from Sophia Pegers, the Cambridge captain that won the day, 8-6, for the Light Blues in front of a crowd of a few hundred supporters.
These days the women’s clubs at Oxford and Cambridge are both fully integrated into the men’s organisations, sharing facilities and gaining access to first-class coaching. 2015 was a breakthrough year, with the women’s Varsity Match being held at Twickenham, the biggest rugby stage in the world, for the very first time. The ‘Player of the Match’ now receives the Bunting-Pegers trophy, named in honour of the pioneering captains from 1988.
There have been 31 matches played, with Oxford leading Cambridge 19 – 14. The match is one of the biggest amateur women’s rugby matches in the world.