Friday, April 29, 2011

Gilbert RWC ball officially launched

The Gilbert Virtuo, official RWC 2011 match ball

The Gilbert Virtuo, the official match ball for the RWC 2011, was officially launched in Cape Town on April 14, with a demonstration by some of South Africa’s top kickers Braam van Straaten, Percy Montgomery and Louis Koen that with the Virtuo, “anybody” can become a kicker. After some coaching, extreme athlete Ryan Sands and radio personalities Ryan O’Connor and Mark Bayly, put the kicking theory to the test – with mixed results. A limited number of the RWC match ball-quality Virtuo balls will be on sale from next week (May 1), but Gilbert RWC ball merchandise has been on sale since December 2010.

As reported in SA Sports Trader October/November 2010, Gilbert’s international ball development engineer Ian Savage, introduced the ball to SARU, the Springboks and Wallabies, before the Tri-Nations test in Cape Town last year. This was one of the many “tests” by players (including Braam van Straaten and England flyhalf Paul Grayson) and factory machines the Virtuo underwent.

 “The Virtuo ball has been developed using new rubber compounds, as well as a unique grip surface that has a profound impact on the flight as well as the out-of- hand handling of the ball, says Eric Ichikowitz, Group Strategic and Marketing Director for Gilbert SA. “It has been developed with optimal performance at the highest level of the game in mind, to ensure that the ball contributes to an exciting and successful World Cup. The key to the manufacturing process is the relationship between the strength of backing material and the amount of energy imparted. This new ball has pleased the experts,” continues Ichikowitz.

The unique design of the World Cup ball was developed as collaboration between Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) and Maori artists. RWCL were keen to capture the meaning of the tournament, using the language of Maori art.  The result is a stylistic interpretation of the Hammerhead Shark (Mangopare), considered by Maori as the greatest of sharks because of its tenacious nature, and the Fern shoot (Koru), central to Maori symbolism with its spiral form representing the cycle of life, family and creation.

 "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,” says Van Straaten. "Of course a lot depends 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."

For more information, visit the Gilbert website, 

Ace Kickers Percy Montgomery, Braam van Straaten and Louis Koen 
with Gilbert SA GM Du Toit Botes (far right), Bokkie and two young supporters


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