If you are not a parent that isn’t familiar with the game of rugby but your son just loves the sport and wants to start playing for his school team next year – then here is the information you need in order to buy him his first (proper) rugby ball.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as walking into to your average sports shop and picking any rugby ball from the rack. Rugby balls come in different sizes and materials.

Here are a few important factors to look out for when choosing a ball:


The size of the rugby ball you choose will have an effect on ball handling skills – too small or big will hinder control of the ball. The ball should be the same size for practice and for matches.

The sizes of rugby balls are as follows:

  • Size 3: Used for age groups under and up to nine years of age.
  • Size 4: Used for age groups from nine years of age to 15 years of age.
  • Size 5: Used for age groups from age 15 upwards, including adults.


Balls in size 3 are usually made of foam, with no inner tube, which means that they are light, soft and safe for younger players. This is the best choice for rugby players who are just starting out and want to practice catching and throwing.

Previously, the bigger balls were made in leather which absorbed water and became uneven in weight. Nowadays, balls are made from synthetic materials with an inner tube, and have a dimpled surface allowing for better grip and ball handling.


High school players can improve their wrist strength and long passing by using a weighted rugby ball. Weighted rugby balls can weigh up to 1kg, whereas normal rugby balls weigh only 460g.


At almost every rugby game, you are sure to see a Gilbert rugby ball, and it is no wonder, as they are the oldest rugby ball manufacturers in the history of rugby!

William Gilbert, the namesake of Gilbert rugby balls, began as a boot and shoe-maker for Rugby School in England but by 1823 he was also supplying rugby balls to the school, shortly after William Webb Ellis first inspired the idea of a rugby game.

Almost every team uses Gilbert rugby balls as their brand of choice; both because they produce quality balls and have also because they have a history of rugby tradition behind them. At the Investec International Rugby Academy, we agree and that is why we love that Gilbert is one of our main sponsors.