The full lowdown on the ball being used at the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup 2023: Players and coaches have said it has already made a difference to the action in France… here’s the full lowdown on the ball being used at the tournament after George Ford and Andy Farrell comments

  • Gilbert has been the World Cup’s ball supplier for every tournament since 1995
  • This year’s iNNOVO is no different in size but there are some new features
  • It is clear that players are able to kick the ball further than usual
  • Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results

England’s drop goal hero George Ford has said it is ‘different’ and Ireland head coach Andy Farrell believes it helped contribute to more errors in the opening round of matches in France.

But what is really going on with the ball being used at the World Cup?

Ford kicked all 27 points in 14-man England’s win over Argentina and one of his three drop goals came from the halfway line. It is clear players are able to kick the ball further than usual.

But that has been down to the atmospheric conditions in France rather than any significant changes to the ball being used.

Ford is technically correct to say it is different to the one which was used in English club rugby last season. But the 2023 World Cup ball – which was unveiled exactly two years before last Friday night’s opening game between the hosts and New Zealand – is exactly the same in terms of weight and circumference as what has been used in international since 2022.

Gilbert has been the World Cup’s ball supplier since 1995 and 2023’s product is the iNNOVO

The same ball being used in France will also be in the Gallagher Premiership in the upcoming campaign too.

The World Cup ball’s appearance is slightly different given normal Gilbert balls have an ellipses design.

Instead, the World Cup one has a mobius brand which make it seem slightly rounder. There are also graphics from all 10 host French cities on it.

Ford is also right about the impact of the weather. Temperatures in France have consistently been in the mid-30’s for the last 10 days and the heat and humidity means the balls travel further.

‘The temperature makes a massive difference,’ Ford said after putting the boot into the Pumas.

George Ford kicked all 27 points as England beat Argentina in their World Cup opener 

‘They do seem to travel a lot faster and they’re going a lot further.’

Gilbert has been the World Cup’s ball supplier for every tournament since 1995.

The surface of their 2023 product – officially called the iNNOVO match ball – is grippy to try and help players to handle it as best as possible. It contains a double valve system which is designed to help implement rugby’s new Sportable technology.

But the current searing heat of France has seen a number of players drop balls after it became slippery due to sweat. Argentina made countless errors against England.

‘This is what people don’t understand but should,’ Farrell said, after his Ireland team impressed with their handling in a 12-try demolition of Romania.

England’s drop goal hero Ford has acknowledged that the new ball is ‘different’

‘When you’re in a World Cup it’s a new tournament and you get new balls. There’s a film on them and it’s difficult to handle in normal conditions.

‘But when you play in temperatures like that, there are going to be errors. People were spilling the ball who don’t normally spill the ball.’

It is likely that as temperatures cool down as the World Cup progresses, you will see the balls not being kicked as far or as fast.

But the warm weather will remain for the second round of pool matches.

England and Wales face Japan and Portugal respectively in Nice this weekend where it is expected to be 25 degrees in the next few days.

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