The Gilbert Match XV is the official match ball for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and was designed to hold true to tradition while embracing the latest ball technology.
But more important this will truly be a ball that players are familiar with before the first kick in England next year. The Match XV will be used in the English Premiership and French Top 14 domestic leagues this season as well as top level international test matches leading up to the Rugby World Cup.
Gilbert has plans to make sure every team in the 2015 Rugby World Cup has the ball before June of next year and plan to speak with team managers to explain the ball properties.
“The Rugby World Cup 2015 MATCH XV ball is the pinnacle of Rugby ball evolution and we are delighted to be launching a match ball that does not just look great, but will deliver another advance in performance for players competing at our showcase event,” IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said at the unveiling.
The testing did not start with the players, however. The ball has been through an extensive 2-year test period with the biggest design change from its predecessor being a new surface compound. The new outer surface is made from a rubber compound that is softer and more pliable in the player’s hands but retains its durability. This outer material also has improved water dispersion elements.
The most noticeable update to the Match XV is with the color and design scheme. The green and blue colors of the IRB logo used on past balls is replaced with a 5-color scheme. The navy blue, royal blue, sky blue, yellow, and pink striping on either end of the ball help with the visibility of the ball and give players great focal points in the key kicking areas.
The ball stays true to tradition with a similar pimple pattern, Gilbert decided familiarity with the current pattern was better than using a new pattern, the same 460 gram weight evenly distributed except for the valve, and a consistent shape from previous match balls with the same punching knives used to construct the ball.
Gilbert has provided the official Rugby World Cup ball since the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
The Gilbert Rugby World Cup 2015 Replica Ball is available at WorldRugbyShop.com