Watch It Play It Support It
That's a lot of balls?
What would the game be without an oval shaped ball?
Why is the ball oval shaped anyway?
Well, first there's the history...
Not long after young William Webb Ellis ran with the ball in 1823 another William started to make oval balls out of pig bladders and hand stitched leather segments. He was already a cobbler so had the skills and materials readily available, he soon started supplying the school with rugby balls.
William Gilbert can't have imagined that his name would still be on the balls we use today and that his company would be the official ball supplier to Rugby World Cup 2003.
There are modern standards to ball size and construction now with the International Rugby Board (IRB) specifying:
The ball must be oval and made from four panels
The length must be between 28-30cm
With a circumference (length) 74-77cm
And a circumference (width) 58-62cm
Even the weight is specified at between 410-460g
Finally, the ball should be inflated to an optimum of 9.5-10 PSI
So what size do you need?
Rugby balls comes in 4 sizes and are suitable for use in age groups:
Size 3 - Mini rugby u7, u8 and u9
Size 4 – Junior rugby u10, u11, u12, u13 and u14
Size 4.5 – Women's rugby u15 and above, into senior rugby
Size 5 – Full sized rugby u15 and above, into senior rugby
So how else has rugby ball technology changed?
The basic stitching techniques involved in ball making are still much the same as in William Gilbert's days - waxed thread is used to hand-stitch the panels together.
The balls are stitched inside out to begin with. Five or six stitches are left loose to enable the ball to be turned the right way and finished with a new thread.
But what about the materials used to make the balls?
Leather casing was used up until the 1980s but has now been replaced by hi-tech materials designed to help the balls keep their shape and withstand the weather.
The latest Gilbert match ball is the Gilbert Virtuo, which uses the latest technology available. Designed for the Elite rugby stage, this ball is the preferred choice for 8 of the top ten rugby playing nations.
An elite level match ball can cost near £90...
see a complete range of balls here [LINK]
© 2014 Noisy Biscuit Club