Why is a rugby ball egg-shaped?

Why is a rugby ball egg-shaped? Nowadays, World Rugby specifies the shape, dimensions and weight of the modern rugby ball, which must be elliptical, made of four panels and weigh between 410 and 460 grams. Dimensions-wise, the ball must be between 280 and 300mm in length, with an end-to-end circumference of between 740 and 770mm and a circumference between 580 and 620mm around the middle, or width, of the ball.

However, in the early pioneering days of rugby, during the nineteenth century, rugby balls were typically made from raw pigs’ bladders inflated, by mouth, with a clay pipe stem, covered in leather and stitched together by hand. Consequently, the ball took on, more or less, the shape of the bladder; larger and more spherical than the modern rugby ball. In 1892, the governing body of rugby union in England, the Rugby Football Union, decreed that the rugby ball should be oval. Subsequently, the original plum-shaped rugby became flatter and more elongated, with more tapered ends, making it more suitable for handling and kicking during a rugby match.

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