Rugby is one of the few ball-sports that does not play with a round ball. It is one of the things that most people mention pretty much straight away. So why is this the case?
Why isn’t a Rugby Ball Round? When Rugby was first created, the balls were made out of a pig’s bladder. The ball was simply the shape of a pig’s bladder and the distinctive oval shape has continued throughout the history of the game.
There is no doubt that rugby is a very historical sport, with many of the things you see in the game today happening because they are part of a tradition. The shape of the ball comes from that tradition.
When Rugby was first created in 1823, a nearby pair of leather workers started supplying Rugby School with the balls for their new game. These men were William Gilbert and Richard Lindon, with Gilbert going on to make Gilbert Rugby, who have been the ball supplier for every Rugby World Cup since 1995.
When these two men first started making balls for Rugby, they were made out of pigs’ bladders. These bladders were not round, they were more of an oval shape. These were surrounded by leather and used to play rugby. The shape of the bladder is why rugby balls are that shape, as the shape is traditional and rugby does not want to make such a massive change to the game.
It added a very interesting part to the game, with pretty much all of the balls being a completely different shape as not all pig’s bladders are the same size. But the majority were in almost a plum shape and this has been slowly developed over time, looking like the oval that we see today.
You may wonder why they did not use the round shape, particularly as rugby came from football which uses a round ball. While it is difficult to find exactly what the creators of the game were thinking, many people believe that they wanted to use an oval ball to stand out from football. It does certainly get more eyes to the game considering the odd shape of the ball.
The oval shape really came in when Richard Lindon started looking for new materials to make the rugby balls out of. The issue with using a pig’s bladder was people would often get ill when the bladder would rot and pumping the ball up was very difficult. He instead changed the inner tubes so that they were made of rubber and this made the ball more oval-shaped.
This shape continued to change slightly over the course of rugby’s introduction to the world, with there being no real regulations on rugby balls until 70 years after the sport was first created. In 1892, the RFU decided to make it compulsory that all rugby balls were an oval shape. They have stuck with this shape ever since.
What shape is a rugby ball?
The exact shape of a rugby ball is a pretty confusing one, particularly when almost all other sports use a spherical ball, while rugby’s shape is very different. The ball is considered to be an oval shape, as opposed to the circular shape of most sports balls. But there is a more technical term for the shape of a rugby ball.
A rugby ball is also known as being a Prolate spheroid, known as a sphere that has slightly more pointy ends, much like a rugby ball. It is very rare that this term is ever actually used and most people just know that a rugby ball is oval-shaped.
What is a rugby ball made out of?
You may not think about it, but there is actually a lot of innovation that goes into the materials used to make a rugby ball. Up until the 1980s, these balls were leather-encased. But they would at times become heavier when it was wet so a new material was needed.
Today, the rugby ball is usually made out of a rubber and polyester compound that is built to be durable and light at the same time. The outer layer of the ball is usually made out of waterproof synthetic materials. These materials need to keep the water out while still being comfortable to play with.
There is usually some artwork that are put onto the balls and the rubber compound has flat sheets that this artwork is attached to. These quarters are then sewn together using a mix of cotton and nylon. That is pretty much all that a rugby ball is made out of, not including the air used to pump up the ball.
What is the smart rugby ball?
Rugby fans may have heard of one of the newest inventions to come to the sport, the smart ball. The smart rugby ball was created by Gilbert Rugby and it is being introduced to revolutionise the use of statistics and data in the sport.
The smart rugby ball has different trackers in it which can provide rugby teams with some crucial data. The main use of the ball is to measure the fastest ball carriers as well as the quality of passing. The ball can measure the length of passes as well as how fast these passes are and the hang time and spin rate.
The original use of the ball is to help rugby teams make decisions based on the data, a system that we are seeing used in lots of sports. There is some hope that this technology can also be used to help referee the game. In the future, the smart rugby ball will be used to detect forward passes as well as offside players.
Rugby has always been slightly behind the times when it comes to technology. The use of the smart ball should move rugby towards a more data-driven ideal. There is no doubt that there will be some more traditional
heads who don’t like the introduction of the smart ball. But it makes the quality of rugby better and should aid referees in the future.