On September 24 2016, the oldest Varsity game in the world will be played between the rugby teams of the University of St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh.
The history of this fixture is relatively well known. The initial meeting between the sides took place in the 1860s and was played for a century before it was stopped in 1961. 50 years later it was brought back into existence by the hard working athletic unions of both Universities.
The first four meetings of the revived fixture were played at the Richmond Athletic Ground in London. This stadium is home to English Championship side London Scottish and was designed to help build alumni relations between two of Scotland’s leading Universities. Edinburgh came out on top in the first two meetings, 32-0 and 28-8 respectively, before St Andrews levelled the score by winning 24-15 in 2013 and 17-12 in 2014. The victories for St Andrews coincided with the fixture being moved forward from its historic placement on St Andrews Day to late September.
Last year saw the fixture gain added relevance as the athletic unions managed to negotiate with the Scottish Rugby Union a deal that would see the fixture played at Murrayfield, the Scottish national stadium. The deal also sees free tickets available for all under-25’s and students of the respective Universities, resulting in a great crowd of over 10,000. St Andrews ran out narrow victors, 27-26, and this year’s fixture promises to be an even greater spectacle. Murrayfield is an amazing stadium that is worth seeing in itself, especially when you get to do it for free!
The free tickets will be available until Wednesday 21 September, three days before the fixture takes place. Bus transportation is also available to purchase at reasonable prices, so there’s no excuse not to get involved. The link to tickets can be found here: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/varsity.
The St Andrews team have been in training for the fixture since 22 August and you can be certain that Edinburgh have been as well, meaning that a high-class game is definitely on the cards.
However, it is so much more than a game. It is early on in the year and provides a great day out, allowing you to spend some quality time with your new found university friends. Likewise, the girl’s game doesn’t begin until 5pm before the main Varsity game at 6, meaning you have the whole day to explore Scotland’s capital.
You can try out some of Edinburgh’s fantastic bars and restaurants during the day, or you can opt for a nice hike up Arthur’s Seat, enjoying the wonderful view across the city. There is also the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and many other great tourist locations for you to check out, meaning that the day is not just for rugby fans.
The game itself will be a brilliant experience, and with both Universities hoping for a crowd to beat last year’s record-breaking achievements, I implore you to get along and watch. Supporting your university for the first time is a brilliant experience and even if it isn’t your first time, it is still worth watching.