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Heathrow flights in urgent call for ball changes

01 April 2011

  • Improvements in kicking and Gilbert matchball technology causing concern for airlines
  • Pilot describes near miss while flying over Twickenham stadium
An aeroplane flying over Twickenham Stadium

Photo: RFU Archive

The following was published as an April Fool. Enjoy...

Routine kicking practice at Twickenham stadium could soon be halted after England fly-half Toby Flood kicked a ball out of the stadium and into the path of a passenger aeroplane as it made its approach into Heathrow Airport.

Experienced Icelandic pilot, Captain Mikael Takin, stated that "the ball was never in danger of striking the aircraft, but was clearly visible as it passed the co-pilot’s window position and gave us a bit of a scare".

None of the passengers were aware of the incident, but in a completely unprecedented action the airline authorities have now appealed to the RFU to reduce the pressure of the ball to prevent any future incidents.

Twickenham stadium is less than five miles west of Heathrow airport, while improvements in ball technology and kicking technique have meant that International-class players are now able to kick the ball higher and further than ever before.

Toby Flood practices his kicking

Photo: Getty Images

International Aeronautical ballistics expert Doctor Lirpa von Loof at the Munich Aerospace Bureau has conducted early computer generated trajectory models for the airline authorities and these seem to suggest that it has always only been a matter of time before something like this occurred. 

Von Loof said: "A simple reduction in pressure of two psi will mean that it will be harder to kick the rugby ball out of the stadium, but perhaps also over the posts. A small price to pay to ensure the safety of air traffic over Heathrow."

A formal RFU response will follow after noon today, but sources close to Flood's camp have described it as "health and safety gone mad".

Use the following link to sign up to a petition to stop the action.