Rugby is a sport that a lot of people don’t know about, despite the fact that it had great contributions in the development of more popular sports, such as American and Australian football. Rugby is a unique game, using a combination of rules and movements from other sports to make its own brand of athletic exercise and exhibition.

Aside from this, though, another unique feature of the game is the ball used at play. The rugby ball as it is known today has an interesting history, one that most people probably have no idea about. The following paragraphs would give the highlights of how the rugby ball came to be.

Pig’s Bladder Balls

The earliest rugby balls were shaped like pig bladders, and were, in fact, made of them. Since pig bladders came in slightly different shapes and sizes, no two rugby balls during that time were the same. The preparation of the balls consisted of manually pumping air into the bladder, after which it was stuffed and sealed with stitches. Rugby balls in this period were replaced quite often because pig bladders are prone to rotting.


Two men by the name of William Gilbert and Richard Lindon are considered the pioneer manufacturers of rugby balls. Both men owned shoe shops within the vicinity of Rugby School, the institution which is said to be the birthplace of modern rugby. Gilbert and Lindon decided to capitalize on the string of rugby games next door – a crucial business decision, as it turned out, since they were the first to reap the benefits from the sport’s rising popularity.

Vulcanized Rubber Balls

The evolution of the modern rugby ball began with the invention of vulcanized rubber. Realizing the practical advantages of this material over pigs’ bladders, manufacturers immediately began using rubber for the balls used in rugby games. The change in material is the reason why the modern rugby ball has an oval shape instead of its early spherical form.


Rules and regulations for rugby games were developed as the sport gained recognition all over the world. In 1892, the ball was standardized to eleven inches in length and thirteen ounces in weight. These specifications have been modified as the sport itself developed further. Today, the standard rugby ball is three hundred millimeters long and has an estimated circumference of six hundred millimeters.

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