The Rugby World Cup’s biggest problem? Slippery balls

4 days ago 6
By Ben Coles

September 19, 2023 — 8.42am

The precocious summertime heatwave successful France has dialled up the humidity and made the authoritative Gilbert lucifer shot highly hard to grip successful immoderate matches during the opening rounds of the Rugby World Cup, with players explaining that the shot has astatine times resembled “a barroom of soap”.

Late-night kick-offs person been cited arsenic a factor, with the humidity expanding during the evenings and truthful expanding the magnitude of sweat and dew connected the ball, peculiarly successful the southbound of France.

George Ford, the England five-eighth, acknowledged aft his side’s triumph implicit Japan successful Nice that sweaty conditions had made maintaining possession with shot successful manus a trickier task.

“You’ve got to recognize however hard it is retired there,” Ford said. “It whitethorn not look it from the stands oregon connected TV, but it’s really much hard than if it was throwing it [rain] down – due to the fact that of the grease and the sweat connected the ball.”

But aft moist conditions challenged England successful archetypal Marseille and past Nice, their remaining 2 matches successful the excavation stages are acceptable to beryllium played connected France’s northbound seashore successful Lille, person to their Le Touquet grooming basal and successful cooler, drier climes.

“Maybe it volition marque a immense difference,” Ford added. “We don’t cognize yet but for the archetypal 2 games, it’s been similar a barroom of soap, that ball, astatine times.”

England playmaker George Ford gets a footwear   distant  nether  pressure.

England playmaker George Ford gets a footwear distant nether pressure.Credit: Getty

There person been much handling errors connected mean truthful acold astatine the Stade de Nice, 22.5 per match, wherever England played connected Sunday nighttime than astatine immoderate different ground. Stade de Marseille, the country for England’s gritty triumph implicit Argentina, has produced 19.5 handling errors per match, with Argentina mostly liable for that fig pursuing 16 successful that game.

One World Cup adjunct manager said the humidity had meant the balls were “travelling good successful the aerial disconnected the boot” but that they were “harder to handle” during the 9pm kick-offs, citing the effects of some sweat and dew connected the ball.

Both of England’s matches truthful acold person been successful that precocious slot, erstwhile the humidity has often risen to a regular precocious to marque conditions that small spot harder for players nether the lights. Their adjacent 2 matches against Chile and Samoa footwear disconnected astatine 5.45pm section time.

Jonny Wilkinson, the erstwhile England five-eighth, who spent respective years playing successful France with Toulon, addressed the problems posed by playing that precocious during ITV’s half-time sum of the crippled against Japan. Wilkinson compared the England-Japan fixture to Fiji’s triumph implicit Australia earlier successful the time successful Saint-Etienne, wherever determination were notably less unforced handling errors and knock-ons mostly stemmed from carnal tackles, specified arsenic Eroni Mawi’s deed connected young Wallabies No.10 Carter Gordon.


“It’s a night-time game, whereas the Fiji-Australia crippled was a batch drier,” Wilkinson said. “I’ve been successful those conditions successful France, I cognize what it’s similar kicking disconnected astatine 9 o’clock astatine nighttime compared to successful the afternoon.”

Two adjunct coaches said the existent grip connected the balls is fine, with immoderate issues lone blamed connected the conditions. Teams get their hands connected match-day balls for the archetypal clip during the captain’s tally astatine the stadium the time earlier erstwhile going done their last grooming session. This is the archetypal clip the balls are “kicked in”, meaning the balls are adjacent to marque caller successful presumption of their level of grip by the clip kick-off arrives the pursuing day.

The mean somesthesia and humidity levels crossed France are besides expected to driblet adjacent play compared with the past fewer days, perchance making beingness easier for teams to debar handling errors during evening matches including Ireland’s crippled against South Africa astatine the Stade de France successful Paris, positive Australia’s must-win gathering with Wales successful Lyon.

Telegraph, London

Watch each the enactment from Rugby World Cup 2023 connected the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Every lucifer streaming ad-free, unrecorded and successful 4K UHD with replays, mini matches and highlights disposable connected demand.

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