150 Years of Intervarsity Sport at the University of Melbourne

20 December 1870: The first intervarsity Cricket match and Boat race between the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney occurs in Melbourne. Melbourne win both matches.

While the state of affairs in the world has prevented us from coming together to celebrate this milestone in 2020, 2021 featured a range of events to mark the anniversary.

Where it all began - the first Australian Intervarsity competitions

In September 1869, members of the Melbourne and Sydney University Cricket Club agreed to a Cricket match between the two Universities. Correspondence from the Clubs indicated that an intervarsity contest seemed like a natural development for all involved:

"...Our members being exclusively members of the University, we neither employ nor play professionals, a practice you will doubtless commend, since it appears desirable that a University Club should possess some distinctive feature apart from others..."

It was also noted that Cricket was not the only competition available for the two rival Universities:

"The interest and excitement of a cricket match might be heightened too by a Boat Race..." and that further entertainment could be found in "a few contests in running, jumping, throwing the cricket ball etc...after the match".

And so in the final days of 1870, members from The University of Sydney arrived by boat in Melbourne for a Cricket match and a Boat Race, and the tradition of Intervarsity Sport in Australia began.

Taken from The Ties That Bind: A History of Sport at the University of Melbourne by June E. Senyard (excerpt here)

How MU Sport Celebrated the Intervarsity Tradition in 2021

2020 marked 150 years of intervarsity sport at the University of Melbourne. Plans to celebrate the milestone took place throughout 2021 with a packed intervarsity calendar which commenced in March 2021 with the Aon Uni 7’s Series, the PAC6 Tennis competition, the new University Basketball League and the Big Blue rivalry with Monash, where our 150th anniversary logo was proudly displayed, and history of intervarsity sport celebrated.

The 2021 Australian Boat Race and a T20 Cricket match with the University of Sydney were also held in October 2021 which provided a platform for the two universities to celebrate the inaugural competitions from 1870, while all Melbourne teams celebrated the milestone at 2021 UniSport Australia events, such as Uni Nationals.

We also hosted a gala event in the second half of 2021 for intervarsity sporting alumni.

150th Anniversary Logo

The 150th Anniversary logo.

Register as a Sporting Alumni

If you have ever competed for the University of Melbourne, we want to hear from you. Click here to let us know what sports and years you donned the University blue to help us build a robust database of the last 150 years. We would also appreciate your help in passing this link to other alumni you know who also represented the University.

Tell Your Story

As part of the celebrations, we will highlight some of the fantastic personal stories and experiences that have been told over the years.

If you are interested in sharing any stories from your time playing Intervarsity Sport, please get in touch with us!

Julie Caundle
Director's Assistant / Keeper of History
+61 3 8344 5401

Give to Sport

Sport has a special significance in the overall advancement of education at the University of Melbourne.

The University prides itself on the performance of sporting clubs, teams and high profile athletes, and in providing opportunities for students to participate in a broad range of activities, at all levels, that encourage regular physical activity and social interaction that develop and support healthy lifestyles.

There are several ways to make a meaningful contribution to the legacy of Sport at the University of Melbourne.