A DATE has been set for the Varsity Matches – but they will not take place at Twickenham.

The men’s and women’s teams from Oxford and Cambridge universities will do battle on July 4, 2021, at Welford Road, the home of Leicester Tigers.

A century on from the first Varsity match at Twickenham, the new venue is seen as the ‘best solution’ given Covid restrictions.

Organisers hope restrictions on community rugby will be lifted by early July, in line with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, although it does mean students will be sitting their exams as they ramp up preparation.

Tim Jones, chairman of the competition’s organisers, said: “With the progress of the vaccine programme we are hopeful that we will be able to stage the matches in front of some spectators.

“The Varsity Match has an incredible history and, we believe, remains the pinnacle of amateur rugby.

“It retains a strong following and continues to provide a vital financial lifeline to both clubs.”

The Varsity Matches are usually held in December, but uncertainty over Covid saw the 2020 edition postponed.

Cambridge completed a light blue double in front of a crowd of 22,863 in 2019, winning the men’s fixture 15-0 and triumphing 8-5 in the women’s game.

Fiona Kennedy, captain of the women's side, said: “The Dark Blues are delighted to have the opportunity to run out at this prestigious rugby stadium, and we welcome the extra preparation time that moving the Varsity Matches to the summer allows.

“We are determined to prepare and perform for this exciting fixture to the best of our ability, despite the significant disruption the pandemic has had in all walks of life.”

Men’s captain George Messum added: “We have been working individually and collectively over the last year to prepare for this match, with today being an important milestone in that becoming a reality.”

Ticket prices and kick-off times are to be confirmed.