Rugby Ball Guide

Overview of Rugby Balls

Rugby balls are perhaps the most essential piece of rugby equipment – without them, the players will have nothing to play with. Due to the ball having such an important role in the game, referees need to make sure the ball is playable. This means that it needs to be pumped up suitably and that there is enough grip for the players. If the rugby ball in question does not meet these criteria, the ball will not be playable, and a substitute ball will be needed. Rugby balls all follow one oval design but are available from a range of brands in different designs, sizes and weights.

Different Sizes and Weights of balls

The ball type used for rugby league games is known as ‘international size’ or ‘size 5’. It must be oval in shape and made with four panels. This size is approximately 27cm long and 60cm in circumference at its widest point. It can weigh anywhere from 410g to 460g.

However, there are many other balls of various sizes which are used in rugby for different reasons. The smallest is ‘size 1’ which is otherwise known as ‘Mini’. These balls can be used for players of all ages and help improve catching and throwing skills. The size of a Mini rugby ball is 15cm long, which is a big difference compared to the 27cm in length of the size 5 ball. The Mini is most commonly used by much younger children to help them get to grips with handling a rugby ball and make them more familiar with the game.

The next size up from the Mini is ‘size 3’. This ball is aimed at Under 9’s and is used commonly for junior use. It offers younger kids the chance to get the feel for a bigger ball, without being too much of a jump in size. After the size 3 there is another ball which is known as ‘size 4’. This ball is normally used in schools for players aged 9-15 years old. The last size is the size 5 ball which we have already discussed; it is the biggest rugby ball and is commonly used in clubs and at a professional level.

If you’re wondering what happened to ‘size 2’, these are known as ‘Midi’ balls but are most often used as promotional gifts or replicas and not used in actual games.


The very first rugby balls were made using an actual pig’s bladder and four panels of leather to form the outer casing. Moving forward, they were made from rubber enclosed in leather, but these were prone to water-logging. Modern balls have a rubber inner tube enclosed in synthetic waterproof materials; some do still have leather on the panels, depending on the brand.

A rugby match ball normally consists of: synthetic rubber, microfibre materials and string type materials, which are used to help the ball stay together. Some rugby ball manufacturers have designed balls which repel water – this increases players’ ability to grip the ball in wet conditions. When the ball is stitched together a wax-like substance is applied around the stitching which helps make the ball waterproof and it allows the ball to avoid leaks and will make it more durable, making it last longer.

All the materials mentioned are designed to created grip, durability and comfort for the players which will allow them to play their best each game they play.

Training Balls

Training balls are designed to help players practise their skills and helps them reach their targets. Many training balls are brightly coloured as this gives the ball high visibility. This is beneficial because players will be able to easily see the ball when training, which will make catching the ball from a high kick easier.

Training balls are also made the same way as regular match-day balls, meaning they have the same waterproofing materials giving the ball greater durability. They also have the same materials which repel water, giving the ball grip factors the player needs no matter the weather. This can make training sessions much better for both players and their clubs.

Rugby Ball Maintenance


Rugby is played in the Winter, so the ball is very likely to be muddy and wet after training or at the end of a match. It is important to clean the ball properly each time; this is because dirt can affect the performance of the ball by adding extra weight and impacting the grip players can get.

It is also important to clean the steams and stitches after use; leaving them dirty may cause the stitching to become loose which in turn could potentially deflate the ball and affect performance. Use a damp cloth and be gentle in areas where hard scrubbing could affect the stitching. Never clean the ball in the shower or plunge it into water. Even though the ball maybe made with special waterproofing materials, it can still be water-logged if there are huge amounts of water poured onto or into it.Dunking the ball into a pool of water can seriously harm its performance and may even cause the ball to not be playable. If water was to enter the ball it would make the ball heavier, which will also affect the performance of the ball.

Cleaning the valve with glycerine is also highly beneficial as this ensures an air tight seal, keeping the ball inflated over a number of matches.


Storing the ball after use in a dry, airy place at normal room temperature is beneficial because it will stop air loss and keep the ball from getting damaged. If the ball is stored in a very cold or very warm place, it will lose air and become un-playable.


It is likely that your rugby ball may lose some air in its lifetime from the first time that it was pumped up and that in itself is not a problem; it is very normal for a ball to lose some air over time from use. Keep an eye on it and if you do need to pump it back up, ensure the ball is treated with care. Inflation can cause the bladder to get trapped within the ball, so keep an eye on this. In addition, if the correct pressure is accidentally exceeded within the ball, you should immediately reduce the pressure down to the recommended pressure. This is because excessive pressure can easily damage the stitches and can cause the ball to lose its shape. Furthermore, if the ball is either over or under inflated it will not perform as well and the expected life span will be reduced.

Purchasing Factors

Size is going to be the first purchasing factor for a rugby ball; people will buy the size they need for their upcoming matches or training sessions.

Following size comes price and brand – as with all purchases, people may be brand loyal and only buy from a brand they trust. Price can sway this decision though, if there are special offers or balls at simply better prices from different brands.

Pre-Knocked Bats on limited stock.