There has been a lot of speculation about the ball being used in the World Cup, especially as a few kickers have been spraying them around. But here is the story from Gilbert the manufacturers which shows the ball has been used for almost one year, so don’t blame the ball!!

RWC 2011 Gilbert Virtuo match balls arrive in NZ.

Official Ball Supplier to Rugby World Cup 2011, Gilbert will be supplying over a 1,000 Virtuo match balls for rugby’s showcase Tournament, underscoring their commitment to supporting the world’s best teams on the world’s biggest rugby stage.

Richard Gray, Sales and Marketing Director for Gilbert, said “As ever, every ball sent over for the Tournament has been hand checked by our Ball Engineer to ensure that they are identical and that they satisfy the high standards required by a Gilbert match ball .

The technical changes we have incorporated into the Virtuo match ball enable Gilbert to inflate each ball to the correct pressure prior to handing over to match officials and for the ball to retain the pressure until well after match use.”

Bernard Lapasset said: “Gilbert is a brand that is synonymous with Rugby World Cup, having supplied balls for all tournaments since 1995. We are delighted to be launching an Official Rugby World Cup 2011 Match Ball that does not just look great, but will deliver another advance in performance through Gilbert’s expertise.”

While the striking Tournament design will make its debut on September 9, the ball has been used by the world’s best teams for over a year to ensure that Gilbert, the teams and Rugby World Cup’s high standards are achieved at the Tournament.

Gilbert introduced the Virtuo match ball for the Autumn Internationals 2010 via partnerships with England, Ireland, Scotland and France to give competing Nations as much play time with the new ball as possible. All RWC 2011 Participating Unions have had access to the ball since June 2011 in the Tournament look and feel design.

Exact Details:

Virtuo:

Gilbert say: “As a ball to be used in the majority of International matches for the next 4 years we selected the name Virtuo which has no specific country attachments yet which we feel echo’s our pursuit of elite product performance.”

Development Timescale:

Four years – to conclude one year prior to Rugby World Cup 2011, New Zealand.

Launch Date and Usage:

Launched at the Autumn Internationals 2010 – England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Used by Gilbert sponsored Unions for matches in the Six Nations and Tri Nations competitions.

All RWC 2011 Participating Unions have had access to the ball since June 2011 in the Tournament look and feel design.

Tournament Ball Design:

The distinctive design on the ends of the ball is a representation of the Tournament ‘Look and Feel’, originally created by Rugby World Cup Limited in conjunction with local Maori artists. It depicts a stylistic interpretation of the Hammerhead Shark (Mangopare) and the Fern Shoot (Koru).

Technology:

Construction and Manufacture:

Made of three ply backing material, laminated using a rubber glue. The outer surface is a high performance rubber compound. The balls panels are made under surgical conditions in the UK, and then made into balls at the Gilbert factory. Virtuo balls are hand stitched.

Grip - Gilbert Patented Multi Matrix Pimple Pattern. The pimples are four point star shaped and are at two different heights – to get maximum grip, without affecting aerodynamics. Approx 80,000 pimples per ball.Bladder - Co-polymer bladder maintains the resilience required to maximise ball performance, whilst ensuring that internal ball pressure is kept constant

Valve - The Patented Truflight (TM) valve allows the valve to be placed into the seam of ball giving excellent accuracy. Ellipse shape valve provides longitudinal rotational stability for more accurate spiral passes and kicks.

Dimensions and Pressure: IRB Law 2: The Ball Dimensions Length in line 280 – 300 millimetres Circumference (end to end) 740 – 770 millimetres Circumference (in width) 580 – 620 millimetres Weight

410 – 460 grams

Pressure

65.71-68.75 kilopascals, or 0.67- 0.70 kilograms per cm2, or 9.5-10.0 lbs per square inch.

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