Mitre Rugby Balls

Why Is A Rugby Ball Oval Shaped?

Why is a Rugby Ball shaped like it is? What has a pig got to do with a rugby ball?

This is a very good question and one a lot of people ask. The main reason behind it is when the first rugby ball was created, they originally used a pig’s bladder which was then encased with leather and stitched up to secure. To inflate these balls they had to use their own lung power as this was before ball pumps had been invented which was not a simple thing to do, and people often got ill because the bladders would start to rot or could be diseased. So because they used a pig bladder the ball was always a slightly different shape and size depending on the size of bladder but always seemed to be more plum shaped than it was round or oval.

Rugby Ball shaped pig's bladder

However Rugby School wanted to create a more oval shaped ball to stand out from the rest with the game of rugby which had been developed at the school. In around 1862 Richard Lindon who had been making the pigs bladder rugby balls for the school was keen to find a safer material to make the bladders after his wife had become ill from inflating the pig bladders using her mouth. He found India rubber was a good replacement however this was much tougher so was too hard to inflate by mouth so he created a brass hand pump to use.

Over time the balls were then made to be a standard oval shape and Lindon created a 4 panel ball specifically for Rugby School. The RFU decided in 1892 to make it compulsory that all rugby balls are oval in shape and this is where the standardization in size and shape began. The new 4 panel design was developed to be sleek and streamline to aid in the quick passing of the ball and also the flight of the ball once kicked.

Pig’s bladders are no longer used in the production of rugby balls so you can be assured all the rugby balls we stock are meat free.