The water polo Varsity Match against Oxford traditionally was, and still remains, the high point of the competitive calendar towards which all training is ultimately geared.
The match takes place annually during the lent term, alternating venue between Oxford and Cambridge.
The first men’s water polo Match was held in October 1891 after Cambridge had sent challenges to Oxford since 1882. It was the first of the four Varsity Matches in which CUSWPC now compete to take place, with competitions now taking place for over the hundredth time.
The following is an extract from the Cambridge Review from October 15, 1891.
“The Inter-Varsity water polo match, the first of it’s kind, is fixed for next Friday, at the Crown Baths, Kennington Oval, at 7.20pm. Owing to the want of a covered swimming bath at Cambridge, water polo can only be played at the sheds, and at the close of a bad season like the present men are necessarily very much out of practice. Our team will feel the loss of Muttlebury, who is unable to play, and our opponents have a strong team. “
Out of necessity the Varsity Match had to be held in London due to the lack of a covered pool in Cambridge which often cut matches against other teams, such as the Otters, short (just 5 minutes each way), due to the coldness of the water.
Reports about the Varsity Match have generally concentrated on swimming and the development of the waterpolo Match is less clear. The early years were quite turbulent as the changes in water polo rules were very dramatic.