Innovation and evolution are at the heart of the Match-XV Plus, the official plus size match ball of Aviva Premiership Rugby launched by Gilbert Rugby today.
Following an extensive development process Gilbert have consulted with many top clubs, players and broadcasters to find the perfect balance in ball dimensions and size to offer the best experience to players, supporters and officials without compromising any of the famous technical genius accustomed to a Gilbert Rugby ball.
With improved handling, superior visibility and an optimised sweet-spot, the Match-XV Plus will launch in Aviva Premiership Rugby later this month at the big Saracens v Harlequins derby day clash at Wembley. A successful debut could lead to it being used in the tournament showpiece – the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May – the pinnacle of English club rugby and a date for any rugby fans’ diary!
Billy Vunipola: "The Wembley game is always one we look forward to at Saracens so it will be exciting to be back there playing Harlequins on 16 April.
"The boys love playing there but sometimes it’s tricky to pick the ball out from the background with the size of the crowd at such a big ground.
"It will be interesting to see how the new Gilbert Match-XV Plus shapes up. We’ve been practising with it and it’s great to handle as well as being easier to see. The grip’s exactly the same as the normal size ball and the kickers seem to be loving it.
"We can’t wait to run out at Wembley, throw the ball around and have some fun."
Paul Morgan, Communications Director at Premiership Rugby said: "With the increase in television coverage, attendances on the rise and the amount of big games taking place at big stadiums like Wembley, it’s essential that the ball has maximum visibility at all times from a fans’, players’ and officials’ point of view. With the new Gilbert Match-XV Plus, we get just that.
"We were pleased to pilot the original Match-XV developed for the Rugby World Cup in Aviva Premiership Rugby last season and will be at the cutting edge again with this latest development from Gilbert.
"If the larger Gilbert Match-XV Plus is a success for Saracens v Harlequins at Wembley, we are hoping that it will be used at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May."
Andrew Challis, Global Gilbert Brand Manager added: "At Gilbert, we pride ourselves on providing the best innovative products & support to all levels of the game.
"It is our relentless research and development that enables us to maintain our No.1 status in world rugby. After successfully providing balls for the biggest Rugby World Cup ever, Gilbert’s engineers have been working around the clock to push the boundaries of ball development. Our best, just got better!"
Tickets for Saracens v Harlequins at Wembley at 3.15pm on Saturday, 16 April are on sale at saracens.com/wembleytickets
We released this story at 9am on Friday 1 April…. but at noon revealed it was an April Fool.