What Types of Rugby Ball Are There And What Should I Get?


Getting To Know A Rugby Ball

With many different disciplines of rugby and players of all ages and sizes, one rugby ball size and type definitely does not fit all. Whatever style and level you play, using the best type of rugby ball for your match is essential for the varying elements of catching, passing, and kicking. We will go into the different sizes and types of ball available, along with the types of ball best suited for different types of rugby games.

Official Rugby Ball Size & Shape

There are many different sizes of rugby ball available, from adult size 5 regulation balls to size 3 kids balls. You can also get midi or mini rugby balls for training or fun. An “official” rugby match ball is required by World Rugby to be 28 to 30cm long, with a width circumference of 58 to 62cm. From end to end, a match rugby ball should be from 74 to 77cm.


What is a Rugby Ball Made Of?

A rugby ball consists of three main elements;

The bladder which gives the ball shape and structure internally and keeps it inflated

The panels, which breaks the external skin of the ball into segments

The grip which coats the skin & helps players to maintain control and handle the ball

Rugby Ball Grip

Grip on a rugby ball is made through a textured, pimpled skin or outer layer. The pattern of the grip can be different sizes and spacings and affects the ease a ball can be caught, the distance it can be passed, or how far it can be kicked. Higher pimples typically mean better hand grip but lower kicking distance. So different grips can affect the disciplines of rugby a ball is used for.

Rugby Ball Panels

The panels of a rugby ball are important as they can control how a ball holds it’s shape and how energy can transfer when passing or kicking a ball. Panels are multi-ply construction for a protective layering but also to manage the weight of a ball. Typically, the panels will be 3-ply and made from cotton or poly-cotton laminates or polyester laminates.

Rugby Ball Bladder

Typically made from a natural latex material or a co-polymer, the bladder determines the inflation and shape of the ball. A natural latex bladder helps the ball movement and energy transfer during a game, but requires weekly re-inflation to maintain optimal shape and weight.

Types of Rugby Ball

There are various types of rugby ball, typically based on type of use, which drive how expensive a ball might be. A professional match ball might be much more expensive as the materials used are better at retaining inflation and improved grip, however training rugby balls are marginally lower quality but highly useable - at a cheaper price. Typical types of rugby ball:

Regulation or Match Rugby Ball - Size 5 balls used at the top level of the game. Higher quality materials for high use over a short time

Training Rugby Ball - Size 4 or lower grade size 5, used for more sustained use with standard grip and panel construction

Mini Rugby Balls - Good fun and training games, small size with less focus on grip and more size and shape for distance

Preparing a Match Rugby Ball For Use

Match quality size 5 rugby balls should be fully inflated for use, however require “pre-kicking” to get their precise and correct shape & feel for a game. It will also highlight any defects or issues in how the bladder of the ball retains air. It’s always advisable to pre-kick your rugby ball before a game.

Rugby Ball Type by Discipline

As rugby balls can vary in size and construction, choosing the right type for your style of game can have an influence.

Rugby Sevens

With more emphasis on passing and catching and less on kicking, rugby sevens balls are usually narrower with a higher grip level. This means the ball will travel more acutely through the air and be easier to hold upon reception

Women’s Rugby

Women’s professional rugby balls are typically at the lower end of the requirements for a size 5 ball, however must still be within the expected size range. Some manufacturers have created a size 4.5 ball which although cannot be used professionally, is a preferred size for use.

Touch Rugby

Kicking isn’t allowed in touch rugby, so emphasis on a high grip to maximise passing and handling is best for this type of game. Touch rugby balls are usually on the larger side of size 4.

Shop Rugby Balls at Greaves

Whatever type of rugby you’re playing, whatever the level, make sure you have the right rugby ball for your game. The most suitable type and size of ball will ensure you have a better and more enjoyable game. Shop our full range of rugby balls from top brands like Gilbert in store or online today. From Scottish Rugby shirts to professional rugby boots, we are rugby experts you can trust.

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