Representatioves from the Cambridge University RUFC and Oxford University RFC received Hall of Fame caps and pins at Twickenham Stadium ©World Rugby

An historic annual rugby union match between the British universities of Oxford and Cambridge has been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

World Rugby has announced the induction of the "Varsity Match" which it considers as "fundamental to the grassroots of our community game".

The first men’s Varsity Match encounter took place in Oxford in 1872 - just one year after the first-ever international rugby union match was staged between Scotland and England in Edinburgh.

The women’s Varsity Match was first played in 1988 and became part of the historic rivalry when they joined the men in playing at Twickenham Stadium in 2015.

Both fixtures are played annually and are jointly marketed under the banner "The Varsity Matches".

An on-field presentation took place at Twickenham Stadium before the annual fixtures, with Oxford winning the women's title and Cambridge claiming the men's crown.

Jeff Blackett, the former head of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) awarded Hall of Fame caps and pins to Stephen Pearson, RFU Council member for Oxford, and Jess Tayenjam, chair of the Cambridge University Rugby Football Club.

Cambridge defeated Oxford to win the men's Varsity Match title at Twickenham Stadium ©Getty Images
Cambridge defeated Oxford to win the men's Varsity Match title at Twickenham Stadium ©Getty Images

"World Rugby is pleased to recognise and celebrate the role that Varsity rugby has played, and continues to play, in the development and promotion of men’s and women’s rugby globally," said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.

"Varsity rugby is fundamental to the grassroots of our community game and has been and will continue to be a vibrant and necessary pathway for many past, present and future internationals.

"World Rugby sees the Varsity Match as both aspirational and inspirational and inducting it into the World Rugby Hall of Fame will be a fitting recognition of the unique institution that it is."

Almost 700 players from the two clubs have played test rugby, including British and Irish Lions, Rugby World Cup winners and captains of their country.

David Kirk triumphed with Oxford just a year before captaining New Zealand to Rugby World Cup glory in 1987, while Scotland great Gavin Hastings and Canadian legend Gareth Rees played for Cambridge and Oxford respectively.

"We are hugely honoured that World Rugby have chosen to celebrate the Varsity Match in this way and delighted at this recognition for all those who have played and otherwise supported rugby at the two universities over the last 150 years," said Pearson and Dick Taylor, RFU Council member for Cambridge, in a joint statement.