OXFORD University RFC remain upbeat about their future despite admitting to “challenging” financial problems.

A lack of high-level sponsorship for the Varsity Match since 2007 has left the Dark Blues, who are self-funded, dipping deeper into their reserves.

OURFC president Sir Ivor Roberts said the practice was “not sustainable” and could not be “allowed to continue”.

His comments followed the launch of a new supporters club ‘The 1869 Society’, which is asking for donations towards Oxford’s running costs.

Vice-chair Martin Jackson, who is responsible for the club’s finances, says the right steps are being taken for the long-term future.

“The situation is challenging, but with a clear solution in sight,” he said.

The society’s formation follows the creation of an endowment fund in June last year, set-up to attract at least £4million by the summer of 2019, and more recently the Varsity Match Company Ltd, along with Cambridge University RUFC.

The latter’s purpose is to attract sponsorship for the annual showpiece event, while all three elements are hoped to help towards running costs of £250,000 to £300,000 per year.

Discussions are also ongoing with the University of Oxford, with regard to a loan to cover short-term cash flow problems.

Jackson, who insisted the Varsity Match would not be moved from Twickenham as a result, added: “There is no fear of Oxford University ceasing to play rugby.

“Positive negotiations are ongoing with the University of Oxford.

“They have been incredibly helpful to us in recognising we need some help, but they expect us to help ourselves and that is what we are doing.”

University spokesman Matt Pickles said: “We are currently in talks with Oxford University Rugby Football Club and we are confident that we will find a satisfactory solution to ensure the future of the club and the rugby Varsity Matches.”

The Iffley Road-based side, who were formed in 1869, are registered as an amateur club and represent the university in competition.