Gilbert have been making the finest Rugby balls from their Headquarters in Robertsbridge, England since 1823, creating balls for training through to match balls and international replica balls.
Gilbert goes back further than 1823, Gilbert began as a boot and show maker affiliated to Rugby School, He ran his business out of a small shop within the town which later became Grays sports shop, after rugby was established Gilbert changed their ball form from being plum shaped to being more oval due to the introduction of pig’s bladder, which has since been replaced with synthetic bladders for today’s game. As the sport began to become more well-known Gilbert Rugby balls grew bigger as a business and received several awards in London. The first rubber bladder was invented by Richard Lindop in 1875, this improved passing and handling drastically.
Founder and inventor William Gilbert died in 1877, but the business was carried on by his nephew James. Sales increased and Gilbert steadily started manufacturing 2,800 balls a year. As the game gained more and more traction so did the Gilbert business, soon they were exporting ball to countries such as Australia along with other rugby nations and the export side of the business inflated quickly.
James Gilbert was the last Gilbert to be involved in the company, he was extremely precise in everything he did checking and stamping every match ball to maintain the company’s excellent reputation. In 1946 Gilbert partnered with Glasgow football manufacturer Thomlinson’s who took charge of marketing the brand until the 1970s. Throughout this time Gilbert match balls were still the ball of choice.
The Gilbert family after a difficult time with new materials and brands emerging they decided to sell the business in 1978, Grays showed interest but did not purchase the company until 2002. They continued to honour the Gilbert brand leading the way in ball technology, design and quality they portrayed this through the Xact ball delivering the best ever performance a ball has delivered and was featured successfully throughout the 2003 Rugby World Cup
This year Gilbert have again been chosen as the official ball supplier of the RWC 2019, which will take place between the 20thof September and the 2ndof November 2019 where we will see 20 of the best rugby playing nations battle out it head to head for the Rugby’s most prestigious award the Webb Ellis Cup.
Here are the only 4 nations who have raised the cup:
1987 - New Zealand
1991 - Australia
1995 - South Africa
1999 - Australia
2003 - England
2007 - South Africa
2011 - New Zealand
2015 - New Zealand
2019 - ?
At rugbystuff.com we stock a wide range of Match balls all these balls have a standard grip and are carefully hand stitched to reassure quality, they use Gilberts patented Truflight valve for a clean finish and great air retention here is a list and star rating of our Match Balls currently available, be sure to check rugbystuff.com for any updates!