Puntabout - History of the Rugby Ball

Posted by lcj11 at Nov 12, 2015 09:25 AM |
Fraser Smith, a short term placement student from the University of Edinburgh provided the University of Leicester with a history lesson behind the design of the rugby ball.
Puntabout - History of the Rugby Ball

Original Richard Lindon ButtonBall

The Sport and Recreation department was given an Original Richard Lindon ButtonBall, as used by the boys of Rugby School in the earliest years of the game. The buttonball was designed and manufactured by Richard Lindon, a local shoe maker and inventor, based in Rugby, Warwickshire.

In 1849 Lindon found himself bombarded by the boys of Rugby School, who wanted him to manufacture footballs for them. Lindon was of course in a position to do so, with all the leather he had for making shoes. His ball became very popular. So much so, that Lindon and his wife worked flat-out producing more balls than shoes. This required a mighty effort- what with the absence of modern manufacturing techniques. The iconic pig's bladder had to be inflated manually through a small clay pipe for each ball. This was the job given to Lindon’s wife.

There was however, a huge risk of illness linked to this process. This became apparent to Lindon when his wife fell ill after she inhaled a disease that the pig had been carrying. She sadly passed away shortly after, Leaving Lindon and her 17 children to fend for themselves.

LindenThis provoked two of Lindon’s most historically influential inventions. His first invention stemmed directly from his wife’s passing. He sought after a safer alternative to the pig’s bladder. He invented the India- rubber bladder as seen in almost all in modern team sports. He produced unique, plum-shaped balls known as ButtonBall’s with the rubber inside. These were very popular with the boys of Rugby School. The rubber bladder revolutionised the design of balls in sport. It had a noticeable impact on the design of footballs -which also relied on the use of animal bladders in order to be inflated. Lindon’s second notable invention was the brass ball pump. Lindon needed a solution for the added pressure required to inflate the rubber bladder that he was manufacturing. He took inspiration from a smaller air syringe and developed a larger brass pump with a needle at the end. This allowed him to inflate his balls by hand indicating all risk and creating a truly innovative solution to his manufacturing problems. Antecedents of this product can easily be seen in the modern ball pump.

Lindon’s inventions can be seen to have changed the world of sport in a massive way. His contribution to the development of rugby must be noted. This is why Fraser and his partner Hannah have set out on their recent business venture.

Puntabout is the sole distributer of Lindon's original rugby ball with an aim of educating rugby fans, young and old, about the contributions that Lindon made to our beloved game. The hand stitched leather ball gives customers an opportunity to own their own piece of rugby history!

Head to the Puntabout website to find out more!

Don't forget to LIKE them on Facebook as well, to keep up-to-date with what the team are doing.

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