The Varsity Polo Match

The Varsity Polo Match
The La Martina Varsity Polo Match
Contested by
First Varsity Match 27 November 1878
Annual event since 27 November 1878
Current champion Oxford
Largest margin of victory Oxford, 19 – 0 (2016)
Venue Guards Polo Club, Windsor
Current sponsor La Martina
Trophy The Challenge Cup
presented by the Hurlingham Club in 1920
Number of wins
Cambridge University Polo Club Oxford University Polo Club
57 63

The Varsity Polo Match is an annual polo match between the Oxford University Polo Club and the Cambridge University Polo Club, played between teams of four players. Historically it was known as the inter-University Challenge Cup or inter-Varsity polo match.[1][2] It is also known as the Oxford-Cambridge Polo Match or by a title that includes the name of its current sponsor (from 2010 to 2014, the Jack Wills Varsity Polo[3][4] and from 2016 onwards the La Martina Varsity [5]). Members of both teams are traditionally known as Blues, with Oxford in dark blue and Cambridge in light blue.

The match is a well-established and popular fixture in the British sporting calendar with up to 5000 spectators in single years and creates an interest which a game between teams of far more seasoned players often fail to do.[6][7] It usually takes place at the beginning of June at Guards Polo Club. The Varsity Match was most recently contested in June 2017, and was won by Oxford by a margin of 13 – 0. As of 2018 Oxford has won the match 63 times and Cambridge 57 times.[8]


Historically speaking, the Varsity Polo Match is the second oldest continuing polo match with the inter-regimental match proceeding it by only 7 years.[9] The first Varsity match was played in 1878. The event has been held annually with the exceptions of the two World Wars as well as 1894, 1900, 1960–61 and 1963. The match was originally played at Hurlingham Club, but moved to Woolmers Park as well as to Cowdray Park after World War II. From 1962 onwards, the venue for the match was decided annually, with the choice alternating with each university. Since 1994, the Varsity Match is played at Guards Polo Club.[10] The Match is played for a Challenge Cup presented by the Hurlingham Club in 1920.[11]


The match format is extremely unusual as it is traditionally not handicapped. Teams are also mixed which is a rare opportunity amongst the Blues sports of both universities. The original conditions are as followed:

No player eligible who has been a member of his University for more than four years, or who has not been in residence during the term in which the match takes place. Instituted in 1878. Played generally at Hurlingham, in June. (Modern Polo, 1896[12])

No player eligible who has been a member of his University for more than four years, or who has not been in residence during the term in which the match takes place. The Cup shall be held by the winning University in each year until May 1st in the succeeding year, when it shall be returned to The Hurlingham Club. Play – 6 periods. (The Polo Yearbook 1939[13])

Old Blues Match

The main varsity match is preceded by a match between the two Old Blues teams. This match has a similar tradition to the Varsity Match as it is held annually and its records go back to 1879 (with major gaps in the statistic). It was known by the title Old Oxonians vs Old Cantabs. In the past, both teams helped to promote British polo not just on Varsity Day but also in other tournaments and events and were seen as one of the strongest British polo teams until World War II brought an end to that.[14]

Results and statistics

A selection of the more frequently cited statistics includes:

  • Number of wins: Oxford, 63; Cambridge, 57
  • Most consecutive victories: Oxford, 8 (1966–73)
  • Match record: Oxford, 2016 winning 19 – 0

Full results by year

Old Blues
127 November 1878OxfordOxford5–010
214 June 1879HurlinghamCambridge1–211Oxonians
329 May 1880HurlinghamOxford4–121Draw
418 June 1881HurlinghamCambridge0–322
517 June 1882
22 June 1882[a]
616 June 1883HurlinghamOxford4–133
714 June 1884HurlinghamCambridge2–434Oxonians
820 June 1885HurlinghamOxford4–044
912 June 1886HurlinghamOxford8–254
1018 June 1887HurlinghamCambridge6–755
1116 June 1888HurlinghamCambridge2–1056
1222 June 1889HurlinghamCambridge0–757
1328 June 1890HurlinghamOxford5–467
1420 June 1891HurlinghamOxford4–177
1529 June 1892HurlinghamCambridge1–1278
161 July 1893
1894 no match
1714 June 1895OxfordCambridge1–8710
1822 June 1896OxfordCambridge3–5711
198 June 1897HurlinghamOxford12–0811
2013 June 1898HurlinghamOxford15–0911
2112 June 1899
1900 no match
2224 June 1901HurlinghamOxford8–21111
2323 June 1902OxfordOxford14–01211
2420 June 1903HurlinghamOxford14–11311
2520 June 1904HurlinghamCambridge3–41312
2626 June 1905HurlinghamCambridge4–91313
2725 June 1906HurlinghamOxford4–31413
2824 June 1907HurlinghamCambridge2–91414
2929 June 1908HurlinghamCambridge1–61415
301 July 1909Wembley ParkCambridge4–51416
3129 June 1910HurlinghamOxford10–21516
3230 June 1911RoehamptonCambridge3–81517
333 July 1912HurlinghamOxford6–51617
3421 June 1913HurlinghamOxford9–51717
3520 June 1914
1915–1919 no match
3619 June 1920HurlinghamCambridge3–41818
3723 June 1921HurlinghamCambridge4–71819
3824 June 1922HurlinghamCambridge1–51820
3923 June 1923HurlinghamCambridge3–61821
4021 June 1924HurlinghamOxford7–51921Cantabs
414 July 1925HurlinghamCambridge2–81922
4217 July 1926HurlinghamCambridge4–71923
4313 July 1927HurlinghamOxford8–32023
4412 July 1928HurlinghamCambridge2–32024
4511 July 1929HurlinghamCambridge4–52025
4610 July 1930HurlinghamCambridge4–52026
479 July 1931HurlinghamOxford9–02126
487 July 1932HurlinghamOxford11–02226
4915 July 1933HurlinghamOxford6–42326
5012 July 1934HurlinghamOxford5–32426
5111 July 1935HurlinghamCambridge4–52427
524 July 1936HurlinghamOxford4–12527
5310 July 1937HurlinghamOxford12–02627
548 July 1938HurlinghamOxford8–42727
559 July 1939
1940–1950 no match
HurlinghamCambridge4,5 – 52728
5630 June 1951Woolmers ParkOxford6–02828
579 June 1952HenleyCambridge0–92829
5824 May 1953Woolmers ParkCambridge0–42830
5920 June 1954Woolmers ParkCambridge2–82831
6018 June 1955Windsor ParkOxford3–22931
6123 June 1956Windsor ParkOxford5–13031
6222 June 1957Windsor ParkCambridge2–43032
6321 June 1958Windsor ParkOxford6–53132
6430 June 1959
1960–1961 no match
Cowdray ParkCambridge1–43133
6530 June 1962
1963 no match
Cowdray ParkCambridge4–53134
666 June 1964Windsor ParkOxford5–33234
6713 June 1965Woolmers ParkCambridge6–73235
6819 June 1966KirtlingtonOxford7–03335
6918 June 1967KirtlingtonOxford12 -13435
709 June 1968KirtlingtonOxford2–13535
718 June 1969Woolmers ParkOxford4–13635
727 June 1970KirtlingtonOxford5–03735
73June 1971Woolmers ParkOxford3–23835
7410 June 1972KirtlingtonOxford11–23935
771975Cambridgex – X4037
781976OxfordX – x4137
791977Cambridgex – X4138
8026 May 1978KirtlingtonCambridge2–34139Oxonians
8217 May 1980Oxford11–14240
8314 June 1981Carver Barracks, Saffron WaldenOxford4–24340
841982OxfordX – x4440
851983OxfordX – x4540
861984Cambridgex – X4541
871985Cambridgex – X4542
881986OxfordX – x4642
901988Cambridgex – X4644Oxonians
9117 June 1989Kirtlington ParkOxford2–14744
921990Cambridge & NewmarketCambridge1–44745Oxonians
9316 June 1991Cambridge & NewmarketCambridge2–44746
9414 June 1992Kirtlington ParkOxford3–24846Oxonians
9513 June 1993Cambridge & NewmarketOxford10–24946
9611 June 1994GuardsCambridge1–24947Oxonians
9711 June 1995Cambridge & NewmarketCambridge3–54948Oxonians
9915 June 1997GuardsCambridge5–64950Oxonians
1006 June 1998GuardsCambridge1–134951Oxonians
1015 June 1999GuardsCambridge2–44952
10210 June 2000GuardsOxford6–05052Cantabs
10310 June 2001Cambridge & NewmarketCambridge1–35053Cantabs
1048 June 2002GuardsCambridge3–45054
1057 June 2003GuardsOxford6–05154Oxonians
1065 June 2004GuardsOxford5–45254Oxonians
1074 June 2005GuardsOxford12–25354Cantabs
1083 June 2006GuardsCambridge1–65355Cantabs
1099 June 2007GuardsOxford9–55455Oxonians
1107 June 2008GuardsOxford4–05555
1116 June 2009Kirtlington ParkOxford5–45655Oxonians
11212 June 2010GuardsOxford5–45755Oxonians
11311 June 2011GuardsOxford5–45855Oxonians
1149 June 2012GuardsCambridge2–135856Cantabs
1158 June 2013GuardsOxford11–35956Cantabs
1167 June 2014GuardsCambridge3–65957Oxonians
1177 June 2015GuardsOxford14–26057Oxonians
1184 June 2016GuardsOxford19–06157Oxonians
1193 June 2017GuardsOxford5–16257Cantabs
1202 June 2018GuardsOxford13–06357Cantabs

a. ^ At the call of time the score was still one goal all, so the teams met again at Hurlingham a few days later, when Cambridge won by 3 goals to 2.[15]

Notable players


  1. Sporting Notes. In: Nottingham Evening Post, Tuesday 27 June 1905
  2. The Times. 12 June 1965, Woolmers Park p.1
  3. "Guards Polo Club". Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  4. "Oxford Sports Federation".
  6. The Inter-University Match. In: The Times. 11 July 1938, p.4.
  7. Oxford Victory. In: Horse and Hounds. 12 June 1970
  9. "British Army Polo". Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  10. "Oxford Polo Club Archive". Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. The Polo Year Book, 1925. London: Hurlingham Polo Association. 1925. p. 30.
  12. Modern Polo. E.D. Miller. 1896. p. 399.
  13. The Polo Yearbook. County Polo Association. 1939. p. 48.
  14. Dale, T. F. (1905). Polo. Past and Present. Country Life.
  15. "University Match". The Polo Monthly: 436. 1928.
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