Today rugby is very popular in the United States, England, Scotland, Wales and other countries. But few people know the history of the rugby ball, the tool without which the sport is simply unimaginable. Let’s talk about what the first balls were like and what they are made of today.
The first mention of the unusual ball can be found in an early XIX century novel by Tom Brown. The work describes the daily routine of students of Rugby School. The author mentions the game with a ball with a non-standard shape. We can conclude that as early as 1835 rugby was played with the “melon” (so the sports tool was called because it resembled the eponymous fruit).
At the end of the XIX century, the passion for a new kind of football took on a huge scale. The first professional clubs began to appear, and the Rugby Union of England was founded. Numerous sports fans attended rugby matches and made bets on the results of the games. Today, you can bet on sporting events right from home, going to the website of any betting company. The list of the most reliable ones you will find on Bookmaker-ratings.in.
Leather rugby balls were sewn by shoemakers in those days. The first mass production was set up by two entrepreneurs who specialized in making shoes in a factory near the same Rugby School. They realized that the widespread enthusiasm for the new sport could bring them a lot of money, and they started supplying balls to everyone. Demand from schools and sports clubs then clearly exceeded the supply in the market.
Initially, the rugby ball was spherical and made of pig bladder, the top of which was lined with four layers of leather. Back then, no standards were imposed on sports equipment, and therefore the shape of the ball changed, repeating the shape of the bladder.
The ball was inflated by mouth, which was not the most pleasant or safest thing to do. Later, to facilitate the process, a nipple was used. The bladder was replaced by a rubber casing. At the end of the XIX century, ball manufacturers began to use the principle of a medical needle to inflate the sphere. Balls began to be inflated with air using a pump, as they still do today.
While at first rugby could also be played with the feet, overtime only the movement of the ball with the hands was allowed. The melon shape of the ball remains the same to this day: the appearance has always been insisted upon by players from all over the world. Today, rugby is only slightly inferior to American football in terms of popularity. While in the USA fans collect player cards, in Europe, Australia and New Zealand collector’s cards include pictures of balls, club logos and other inseparable attributes of the game.
The modern rugby ball is made from composite rubber and rubberised cotton. Four panels of synthetic material are sewn together, and their ends are rounded and smoothed. The ball is governed by International Rugby Union standards. Dimensions and weights are numbered for clarity. The ball number 5 is for adult rugby players, number 4 for youth and teenage teams, and number 3 for children under the age of 9 years.
A quality rugby ball costs $20, and you can buy it both in regular sports shops and on specialized websites.