Eskimo Rugby today has a feature on the new Mitre training ball which certainly won't help on that score.
Called the Reload, the ball has a "rounded" end which, it is claimed (in theory at least), allows a rugby player to practice on his own - passing and kicking against a wall for instance (as with a football) - the idea being that the ball will bounce straight off the wall back to the player without flying off at crazy angles.
According to Mitre, this exclusive rounded end rugby training aid is popular at all levels of the game and can be used as a warm up and skills developer whilst also being suitable for players to train on their own. The ball, they say, is excellent for spin and distance passing, catching practice and line out throwing and can also help develop drop kick techniques.
All fine and dandy, but I have more than a couple of issues with this ball:
- I honestly don't believe that if you pass or kick this ball against a wall it will bounce back to you (unless you stand really, really close to the wall). Surely once the ball hits the ground it will, unless it miraculously happen to bounce on its rounded end every time, be subject to the unpredictable nature of a bouncing rugby ball?
- Even if the ball did bounce back to you, surely the whole point (if you'll excuse the pun) of a rugby ball is that it is unpredictable. Can practising with a ball that has a predictable bounce help that much? If so, why not just practice with a football?
- It just looks SO wrong.
- If John O'Neill gets wind of this, how long before the ball is trialled as a match ball on global scale?