The official match ball for this year’s Rugby World Cup has been launched featuring Maori designs.
The white ball has blue and green design work on it in the official World Cup colours.
It features a stylistic interpretation of the Hammerhead Shark (Mangopare) and the fern shoot (Koru).
Launching the ball in South Africa, home of defending champions the Springboks, Gilbert said in a release: “The Mangopare is considered by Maori as the greatest of sharks because of its tenacious nature; a quality needed in the heat of battle. It symbolises strength, determination, strategy and team play. The Koru is central to Maori symbolism with its spiral form representing the cycle of life, family and creation.”
Performance-wise, the ball has 3000 more pimples for better grip. The designers were looking to help handling in wet weather. Gilbert suggests the new design will also help the flight of the ball for kickers.
The company used former international goalkickers Paul Grayson (England) and Braam van Straaten (South Africa) in research and development.
“The ball travels perfectly through the air – it’s aerodynamic and with the adaptation Gilbert has made to both the strength and the bladder makes it a pleasure to kick,” van Straaten said.
“Of course a lot is dependent on the climate and ultimately the pressure on the ball, but my experience shows that this is an amazing ball and it has been a pleasure to test.”
Springboks kicking coach Percy Montgomery was at the launch and gave the ball a big thumbs-up.
“It’s a much better ball than the one that was used at the last World Cup,” said Montgomery who was the leading points scorer at the 2007 tournament in France, amassing 105 points with 95 coming from penalty kicks.
“I think we will see that the players get more distance on their kicks and the dimples on the ball will make handling easier in the wet.
“This ball is going to travel if you strike it in the sweet spot. The sweet spot on the new ball is also bigger, so the guys will be kicking it far.”
Some awesome korero from Duncan Johnstone