Harrow School Pupil Circa 1935 Credit Getty Images William Gilbert had a boot and shoe makers shop next to Rugby school in the high street and started making balls for the school out of hand stitched, four panel, leather casings and real pigs bladders (he also made catapults for the boys).
old ball - In fact it is the shape of the pigs bladder which is reputed to have given the rugby ball it's distinctive oval shape although balls of those days were more plum shape than oval. The balls also varied in size in the beginning depending upon how large the pig’s bladder was
The GILBERT Match remained the ball of choice for the majority of major matches during this time, but with the advent of new materials and brands challenging GILBERT’s traditional leather business, the brand experienced difficult times and the Gilbert family decided to sell the business in 1978. Gilbert Match Ball. Picture kindly supplied by Chris Gilbert
Rugby Football History In 1946 GILBERT formed a joint venture with the Glasgow based soccer ball brand Tomlinson’s who were responsible for much of the distribution and the marketing of the brand until the 1970s.
Richard Lindon 1816-1887 Richard Lindon's wife (who used to blow up the bladder based rugby balls for her husband) contracted a lung disease thought to have come from years of blowing up pig's bladders (some of which were most probably diseased) and died.