Do you love rugby? Of course. But as a hardcore rugby fan do you know the History Of Rugby Ball and how Gilbert made It now?
Outside rugby school in England stands the statue of William Webb Ellis, the man credited with the invention of the game. But the ball he decided to pick up and run was back in 1823 bears very little resemblance to the modern-day ball we see in use today.
Situated across the road from the famous statue is the rugby museum. On the very same site where William Gilbert first opened a factory in 1842 producing pig bladder balls for the boys of a rugby school to play with. The original football shape began to evolve alongside the game itself.
They wanted the shoemaker to cover it with leather. So there would last a little bit longer as the years went by the rubber bladder was invented by Richard Linden and once they’ve got that they can get more conformity to the shape, there’s more of an oval shape as the game became more the running and throwing the game. Slowly the shape of the ball began to change.
The name Gilbert lives on of course and despite the huge advances in technology, there are still some traditional methods employed including hand stitching.
One employs says_
I am the only boss did you left in England when you say what you do? They can’t believe it. You know they all think it’s being done by machines now. But it’s not. Our balls are all hand-stitched. So it’s a job in a million to me. I enjoy the game. So yeah! It’s releasing.
Once the bladder is attached, the ball is then turned inside out. Ready for the final and trickiest stage of the stitching. Ready to start stitching.
He also says_
What I do like is when you see the month on the TV or you see them in matches being used, you think I probably did that one. You know and its quite nice and then you think when the really big matches if it doesn’t burst which it I’ve never seen it happen. But you know as always that little bit in the back in the back in mine but no its thrilling really to see them a turnabout.
Testing the ball is the most important part of the development process and prototypes had taken to the English Premiership side Northampton where 2003 world cup winner Paul Grayson puts the ball through its paces.
Paul Grayson says_
As a play, you know how you want a ball to feel and as soon as you pick a ball up you can almost sense whether it’s a good ball or not. You get that instant the feel of the grip and then obviously as a kick as soon as you put boot to ball. You want to know you can trust you can trust the ball and it will deliver what you expect.
All the work that we do and theory wise and gives us what should happen but I’ll see we need players input and specifically pauls input to actually take that is what happens and it is you know the benefit is an improvement.
They think what Paul gives them is a consistent level of kicking as well. So what they want from somebody is testing is Somebody’s going to approach kicking the ball the same way each time. So that they can get correct comparisons in between the balls rather maybe somebody has one kicking staff or one ball which they don’t like and then change their style. You know they wouldn’t get a comparison ball it would be you know the player.
So Paul what is the secret of successful kicking?
Valve towards the target. The seams of the boiler a natural aiming mechanism and if you kick the ball on the seam you get greater penetration into the ball. So you get a greater rebound off your foot. So it promotes distance as well as accuracy as well as receiving feedback from the professional’s Gilbert work with high-tech laboratories in search of the ball for the future.
It’s very much taking a scientific look at how the ball performs and taking real real-life video footage and putting that into it almost a virtual world. To then do some you know experiments on with changing the pimple patterns looking at different types of material to make the ball from. And so it gives them a bit of a push in the right direction to say that’s worth looking at.
And then they take that information and they’d start to prototype and then look to test. Players, it’s not just about producing the ball that flies the farthest or bounces the highest or has the best grip. It’s about finding a ball which maintains the integrity of the game and performs in any conditions and under the Severus of pressure that you get in a world cup. Or an alliance tour and you know that the product that goes over the whitewash with the player. And has to be trusted by everybody and has to deliver.