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?

Why is a rugby ball oval shaped? 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. This 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 and was not an easy task. Subsequently people often got ill because the bladders would start to rot or could be diseased. So because they used a pig’s bladder, the ball was always a slightly different shape and size. Obviously down to the size of bladder used. Furthermore the ball always seemed to be more plum shaped than it was round or oval.

Rugby Ball shaped pig's bladder
Is It True The Rugby Ball Was Invented in Rugby?

Rugby School wanted to create a more oval shaped ball to stand out from the rest. With the game of rugby being born having been developed at the school. In around 1862 Richard Lindon decided it was time to look at the ball manufacturing process. He had been making the pigs bladder rugby balls for the school and was keen to find a safer material. This only happened after his wife had become ill from inflating the pig bladders using her mouth. He found India rubber was a good replacement as it was much more durable. Unfortunately it was too hard to inflate by mouth. Therefore he also created a brass hand pump to inflate the rugby balls.

Gilbert Sirius Match rugby Ball

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. At this point it is where the standardization in size and shape began. The new 4 panel design was developed to be sleek and streamlined. This aided 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.

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