OXFORD University RFC are confident they have secured a long-term future after striking a deal for their Iffley Road ground.

The self-funded club, who admitted to “challenging” financial problems in February, have sold the site, which they have owned since 1922, to the University of Oxford.

Eighty-three per cent of the five-acre ground – the pitch, two stands and the pavilion – will be leased back to the Dark Blues for 250 years.

The university plan to use the remaining 17 per cent – three small pockets of land – to develop its sports facilities, but, as of yet, there are no concrete proposals.

Sir Ivor Roberts, the club’s president, said: “The 1,100 rugby union players, coaches, medical staff and officials within the university are very grateful to know that, coupled with our on-going fund-raising efforts, this deal ensures that the sport – which has seen a 50 per cent increase in participation, particularly among women, in the last five years – has a sound financial footing.

“Rugby at Iffley Road continues as it has done since 1922.”

The university’s men’s team are on a two-week USA tour, beating Mystic River 31-20 in Boston on Sunday.

But in February the club revealed a lack of high-level sponsorship for the Varsity Match since 2007 had left the Dark Blues dipping deeper into their reserves.

They subsequently formed a new supporters club ‘The 1869 Society’, which has since received one-off gifts of £22,000 and annual repeat funds of £14,000.

An endowment fund was also set up, with a target of at least £4million and, thanks to the sale of the ground, £2.6m has already been raised.

Prof William James, university of Oxford’s pro-vice chancellor for planning and resources, said: “The university is very pleased to have concluded the deal which enables it to finalise the next stage of improvements to sports facilities which are central to the student experience.

”In addition, the university is keen to help OURFC achieve financial stability to secure the future of rugby as a major student sport.”