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I’m not a huge rugby fan but have warmed to it in recent years as it’s become less classed based and more professional and exciting to watch. My team is the Northampton Saints and we are very successful with a decent 13,000 capacity bespoke stadium and top players. We are not quite up and running yet as far as the season goes but we will pick off the minnows and top four by the end of the season. It’s not cheap to watch the Saints and around £40 for a Premiership game, compared to £20 for Twenty20 Friday night cricket at Wantage Road and £17 at the Cobblers.
Rugby is not as middle-class as you think and the game original designed so men of all shapes and sizes (and lately women) could play the game, the quick lads on the wings, the stocky boys the ball-handlers and the big ugly lumps in the pack, the latter there for the beer but still an important part of the game. The ball, of course, is designed to compliment this, oval shaped and slippery when wet. It wobbles along the ground like a hooker after 10 pints. The shape makes it quite clear this is game for hands not feet although I quite fancy myself as a kicker and banged a few over at school. Today, of course, they teach you to point the ball on apiece of plastic and unnaturally point the ball away from the toe on the place kick. It looks horrible on TV and you do wonder how those guys kick the ball that way. I stick it slightly leaning back and smack them as far as they do. I think its just to get the makers name on camera, Gilbert the biggest name in rugby balls, of course.
The Gilbert ball is the official World Cup ball and you can buy a match ball in specialized sports shops. The top range of Gilbert ball they use in the Four Nations can be over £100. But I would not spend that on a ball we muck around with and play touch rugby with like my particular ball. This model retails at around £65 and the sort of grade you would use in club rugby or at schools. I got mine free doing a job for my local paper on a promotion in the summer and would probably not pay for full price if I had to. You get a pump and valve free with it, of course, when you buy it in the store. The guarantee is a years worth and one to keep as the stitching can wear on these if the ball is a faulty one off the line in Dhaka. Gilbert markets themselves as this 140-year-old company that dates back to the original Rugby School in the Midlands where the game began but I’m guessing the training balls are made in a South East Asian sweatshop by kids.
It’s a great ball and apparently they are all slightly different and unique to touch and feel when you use them. I can still slam a 40-yeard goal kick as my party trick at my age and they are easy to handle and spin pass. They have a slight rough to them to help grip and apply rotation for control and not too slippery when wet compared to other balls. I haven’t played team rugby since school and smelling another mans farts or armpits never really appealed so can’t really compare it to other balls as we had those cheap orange things at school in the 1970s and 80s. I can’t think of any other top rugby ball makes and so these top dogs. For a young fresh faced middle-class schoolboy this would make a cracking Christmas or Birthday present.
So on the whole this mid range Gilbert ball is ideal for taking to the beach or the park and playing touch rugby with your mates. It has good bounce and some give on handling. If you over - inflate any ball it doesn’t do it much good and doesn’t play naturally. If it ‘pings’ on a bounce let a bit of air out. It is pricey and there is range of generic or kid sized ones that are under a tenner in Sports Direct if you don’t want to spend. But as rugby is quite middle-class your mates will expect a brand ball to be seen with.
* Standard grip - excellent all round grip. Designed to balance grip and durability
* Hydratec - technical fabrics and external waterproof laminations are combined to enhance the life and performance of balls.
* 3 ply poly cotton and cotton laminates.
* Durable rubber surface
* Hand stitched
* Play level: Club/Schools/Mini and Junior Rugby.
* Conforms to IRB size and specifications.
I have used the ball, size 5, for training at club level. However if we were given this to use as a match ball I would be just as happy. The size and shape follows IRB standards so it is the same as the match balls we use. It feels slightly heavier then normal and more expensive match balls but you can hardly notice it. However this helps you in training because it makes you have to work harder when you are passing or kicking the ball.
The amount of grip on the ball is really good and is suitable for any weather. In the dry you feel very confident with this ball that you can push your passes that little bit further. In the wet it helps you catch the ball and helps you when you are passing. This is very important, especially in training, because it gives you the confidence to improve your game. In a match it helps improve the quality of the match which is better for players and spectators.
It is a very durable ball. The ones I have used are used in training and in matches and they keep their grip for a long time and do not lose their shape. It is suitable for any type of weather and the smaller ones would make excellent training balls for youngsters.
Whenever you get a group of people together at a BBQ or a family gathering, and a rugby ball is obtained, you will always get people passing it back and forth in a sort of catch game between everyone. Hence, when we had a recent BBQ coming up at home, I bought this Gilbert Zenon Rugby Ball on the spur of a moment to provide some gaming fun, mainly on account that out last rugby ball was finally damaged by one of the dogs. At the time, they were only £4.99 in JJB Sports, reduced from £14.99. So for that price, and for what I wanted it for, it was a bargain.
The Gilbert Zenon Rugby Training Ball comes in 3 sizes, designated Size 3, Size 4 and Size 5. Size 3 (the one I got) is the smaller of the 3 and is more for children/teens. Size 4 is slightly larger, where Size 5 is the largest and is a full size version more suited for adults. I got the Size 3 version because it would also allow my kids to play with it as well as the adults.
The ball itself is made from a special combination of materials to give it toughness, waterproofness and durability - all good qualities that are required for a good rugby ball, where it is made up of a number of panels that have been stitched together. It is also very lightweight (as you would expect for a training ball for kids/teens age groups) meaning that it easy to throw and catch.
The outside of the ball has what can be best described as a rubberised pimpled grip, meaning that the surface of the ball is covered in small pimples. This aids the gripping of the ball when you catch or throw it, especially when it is wet. We've done some long range kicks with this ball when it was wet, and when you catch it at the other end, it just stops in your hands with that rubber pimpled grip, and doesn't just slip through.
Another good point is that when you do throw it, it also seems to hold its path well through the air, and doesn't seem to get too deviated by any wind, which is surprising given its light weight, but may also be that when you throw it right (a pointed end first like a missile with a spin on) the aerodynamics take effect with that pimpled skin, and give it a good flight path. Either way, it does feel good in your hands and during play.
In summary, for my needs, this was an ideal rugby ball, and my kids still get enjoyment from it now, bashing it around the garden. It is fully featured, tough and durable, and although I got it for the sale price of £4.99, I would have been happy to pay a full £14.99 for it. So a 5 star recommendation from me.
Review also on Ciao under Randal1.
I'm not a great fan of rugby, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that I went to a school where rugby was very serious business and unfortunately familiarity breeds contempt. Plus I was borderline rubbish and would rather have been playing with a round ball.
My son however, is very keen on the sport. He is 14 and although he loves football, try as he might, he has never makes the school first team. With rugby though he shows a natural aptitude and with the combination of being a big lad and fast, has made the first team. Hurrah! Pause for a proud dad moment.
So, I thought, that it might be nice if we could put in a bit of extracurricular practice, to get him away from the Xbox and purchased a Gilbert ball on the recommendation of his sports coach. Apparently the balls are IRB approved.
These rugby balls are available in 3 sizes.
I hate lists in reviews but...
Size 3 for kids
Size 4 for teens
Size 5 for adults
We purchased a size 5 for as earlier mentioned, my son is a big lad!
The ball came in a state of deflation but this was easily rectified with a bicycle pump and needle adaptor.
Now, apparently these balls are a tad lighter than a pro match ball, but to me, it doesn't really register. What I can assure you of is the quality of the ball, as it really has been through the mill with both me and my lad practising kicking, passing and throwing in all conditions and it has continued to retain it's shape, just needing the occasional pump.
It grips well even in wet conditions and seems to be aerodynamically sound although with my kicking, it's hard to notice, but my son who is far more gifted assures me that it is.
All in all, it's a really decent practice ball that will last you a long time and as you can easily pick one up for around the £10 mark, I would consider it good value for money.
5 stars from me and the big lad.
Thanks for reading.
If I'm perfectly honest, rugby is not one of my favourite sports. But every so often I do seem to end up getting involved in some form of rugby game. When I was at school we had a teacher who insisted we play rugby every now and again, none of us really liked it, it was just an excuse to jump on the teacher. There is one name that always standard out when it comes to rugby balls. The name of Gilbert. We used Gilbert balls at school and I still use a Gilbert ball when I play now. One of these such balls is this one, the Gilbert Zenon Training Ball.
This ball is one that I have found myself playing with quite a bit. Despite the fact that it is called a training ball the Gilbert Zenon ball seems plenty good enough to use in games. I suppose professional players may well not agree with me on this one, but for the kind of rugby I usually end up playing this one certainly is more than good enough. So what can I tell you about the Gilbery Zenon training ball? Well to start with, it's not round. It's an egg shape! So there you have it, the limit of my rugby expertise.
Let's try and go into a little bit more detail though. One thing I have noticed about the Zenon ball is that it seems to be very durable. Being a training ball it is one that is designed to be used on a regular basis and last and long time. From what I have seen of the ball it does just that. The ball has a durable rubber surface and uses Hydratec technology which the fabrics of the ball and the waterproofing system are designed to make the a long lasting, hard wearing ball.
As for feel it seems pretty good. The ball is pretty grippy even in the wet. This means it's not overly difficult to catch, even if you find yourself under a high spiralling kick. The ball also seems pretty good when you kick it, it flies straight and true and you seem to be able to get pretty good distance on the kicks. All the things you would want from a basic rugby ball, this one delivers.
When it comes to price, the Gilbert Zenon Training Ball is pretty good value. Having a quick look round online and you can easily buy one for around £10 which is pretty cheap for a decent quality rugby ball. If you shop around you may even be able to pick one up for a little cheaper than that.
Overall I would have to say that the Gilbert Zenon Rugby Training Ball really is a good all round performer. If you are serious about rugby it may not be quite up to standard to use in a match, but if like me you don't take the game to seriously then this one should be fine to use it games as well as training . So if you want a good all round rugby training ball then this one should be fine for what you are looking for.
The Gilbert Zenon Rugby Training Ball appears to be the same as all of the many rugby balls out there but it is different. It is perfect for people who are brand new to rugby or people who just to improve their passing and kicking.
The ball comes in either Black with red lines or Red which is shown in the picture. It comes in three sizes as well. Size 3 for children , size 4 for teenagers and size 5 which is used from age 14 and up. I brought the Red model in size 5. It looks excellent and fits well in my hands. There is not much difference between size 4 and 5 length wise but size 5 is fatter which I find makes easier kicking but harder catching if you have small hands.
When I got the ball it was deflated. It was easy to pump up with a simple bike or football pump but it does need a pump needle just like footballs. To make sure that it is fully pumped up you should never push it with your thumbs in the middle! You should push the tip of it where all the four sections meet and it is all red. This stops it from becoming damaged and you can still tell if it is fully pumped!
It is slightly lighter than your regular match ball which makes it easier for smaller children to pass it and kick. It comes in two smaller sizes for kids who want a manageable ball to practice their passing. If you have ever held a rugby ball , you will know that it has lots of little nobles on it to help with grip when it is wet , the gilbert Zenon rugby training ball has much bigger nobles. This helps with catching passes hugely especially when wet. It also makes it easier to do spiral kicks and other advanced passing moves which proves that this ball is perfect for all abilities.
The ball is also more robust than match rugby balls meaning that it can be left in the garden in all weather conditions and will not start to fill with water which is sometimes a problem with rugby balls. I would not advise leaving it outside though.
Passing with the ball is very easy. It spins most of the time with minimal effort and it is lighter than most balls so it goes further. Kicking is also made slightly easier because of its light weight nature but still takes some practice to perfect.
Overall , a great ball for training and using down the park or at a picnic. Perfect for kids.
I have played rugby union for many years now, and am always on the lookout for balls with better grip and a nice even flight. Gilbert has always been my first choice, and I will explain why.
Gilbert are one of the older and respected names in the sport of rugby, the balls are not too heavy and are usually used for match balls. For this reason alone it is always a good idea to train with them.
This particular ball is not a let down either when you first get it. The grip is extremely good and the ball holds its air well.
The ball is of reasonable quality, when you spin it it does not feel as if it wobbles too much.
I would say though, that the ball does tend to lose its grip quite quickly, although you would expect this for around £10, it is a bit annoying when 2 weeks after owning it, it starts to wear down. However the stitching stays very strong and the valve is not leaking like some balls I have owned from Kooga etc.
Would definitely say this is a good ball to use for any sort of training drills, or just for a general mess about.
I've been playing rugby since I could walk and so have therefore had the opportunity to try out many different makes of equipment and balls. Gilbert, I believe will always be the market leader in training and match balls due to the long life of them and the high quality they are designed too. Many balls I have used are equally as grippy and well-shaped as new to Gilbert training balls but after several uses they become smooth and very hard to catch.
Another huge advantage with Gilbert is that they are undoubtedly best for kickers to train with as these are the most common balls used in matches due to their popularity. Kickers prefer them as they can practice with the balls they use in the game so they will travel the same in the air.
The cost of these is also very attractive. If balls are bought for a team the cost can quickly add up when you have 10-15 training balls so with these cheap but good quality balls you will be saving huge amounts.
It should lastly be noted that the modern balls do tend to deflate when left in a kitbag for a while. This is a safety feature to prolong the life of the ball to prevent cracking of the rubber. So, even though it is annoying to have to pump them up every month reassure yourself that your ball will last much longer and you will be saving money in the long run.
Enjoy and good luck with your rugby. A top tip is to write your name on the ball in marker pen so that no one will wonder of with it saying it's theirs.
At my old working class school, which I hope has been demolished by now, there wasn't a rugby ball in sight. Rugby (and I'm talking about Rugby Union) was a distant game played by middle class children and we made do with football, a bit of good old cricket, and the dreaded cross country run in the depths of winter where our main priority was not completing the run in record time but finding the best short cut through the orchards. My short cut was genius and probably deserved an award. I have never had any desire to go to a rugby match or play rugby in a team and can't say I understand the rules much (it does seem to be one of those sports where the whistle goes every two minutes and they all stop for reasons that frequently baffle even the commentators) but I do have a Gilbert Zenon Rugby Training Ball that my brother got hold of a while back and I've discovered that booting a rugby ball back and forth between two or more people in a big park or field is almost as much fun as booting a football back and forth. It is surprisingly satisfying to hold a rugby ball in your hands and see how high you can launch it with an almighty hoof. Plus of course the added fun and drama of seeing if the other person can catch it.
The Gilbert Zenon Rugby Training Ball comes in sizes 3, 5 & 4 and you can choose between black or red when it comes to colours. It can currently be purchased for around £10 online and conforms to IRB specifications. It's billed as a high performance training ball that can be used in all types of weather and is said to be excellent for developing handling and kicking skills. The ball is Hydratec and the technical fabrics and external waterproof laminations are combined to improve and increase the life and performance of the ball. I'm not quite sure what that all means but it sounds impressive anyway! It also has a 3 ply cotton rubber laminate construction, is hand stitched and has a durable rubber surface. The ball is said to be excellent for drills and training in rugby clubs and schools and has a good grip. I'm not an expert on rugby balls (no, honestly) but it does appear to have an excellent shape and feel to my unprofessional eyes and, er, hands.
The first time I had a kick about with this with someone I thought it might be a bit boring to be honest but whacking a rugby ball around is actually great fun. The fact that you have to try and catch it is really good fun too and I like the process where you hold the ball out in front of you in outstretched arms and contemplate which spot you are going belt as hard as you can to achieve maximum effect. Rugby balls make a wonderful little thud when you boot one and then you can watch it shoot off into the sky and spin down again. The main fun is watching the other person (or persons) shuffling around trying to gauge where it will land and then trying to catch it. I do find you have to be very careful about where you kick this though. I have let the ball slip in my hands and belted one of those pointy bits at either end of the ball and this can hurt your foot. It doesn't happen very often but it is annoying when it does.
In addition to kicking the ball as hard as you can it's also quite good fun to throw it to one another to catch and whizz back. The ball does have a good sense of weight and is also quite easy to grip. I have used in this in different periods of the year and it always feels the same, whether you are playing in the height of summer or the depths of winter. I don't personally kick a rugby ball around in pouring rain myself (!) but the ball is waterproof and designed for all eventualities and so can be used for clubs and schools who, unavoidably, will end up playing in the rain sooner or later. Obviously, the fact that you purchase this ball in different sizes means that you can get one (or however many you want) appropriate to the size and age of the players who will be making use of it. Another thing that is quite good fun is goalkicking, where you place the ball on the ground pointed up and then have to kick it through the posts. My local park has rugby posts up most of the time so I have tried this but you can use imaginary goalposts I suppose. This goalkicking malarkey is far difficult than it looks on the telly.
Although I'm mainly a boxing and football person myself and don't follow rugby, I'm really glad that I somehow ended up with a rugby ball and have had a lot of fun with this. I can see how this ball would be excellent for schools and clubs to use and it seems to be of a very commendable quality and standard too considering you can pick this up for a tenner. The ball is very sturdy and durable and as it is primarily designed for rugby clubs and schools you'd get great value out of this if you just used it occasionally for a boot around in the park. If you've ever felt the urge to own a rugby ball or need to get hold of a few for your school or whatever you could do a lot worse than the Gilbert Zenon Rugby Training Ball.