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Technology helps Rugby World Cup stars

29 July 2015

Rugby players in Shadows

How technology helps rugby players to catch a ball

Cardiff University experts will be at the National Eisteddfod to demonstrate how technology is helping the stars of this year’s Rugby World Cup to catch the ball, whatever the weather.

The University has teamed up with Gilbert the Rugby World Cup ball manufacturer to highlight how a polymer in the outer surface of the ball makes it water hating (hydrophobic) and sticky to the hands of the players.

Running throughout the week on the Eisteddfod Maes, children will be able to take part in our very own National Eisteddfod Rugby World Cup challenge.

Carwyn Owen, the craftsman responsible for making the 2015 National Eisteddfod Chair, has made a 4.5m wide 2m high model specifically designed to test the youngsters’ rugby skills while highlighting the value of polymers.

It’s all part of the University’s Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Medical Society exhibition and activities at the Science and Technology Pavilion at this year’s National Eisteddfod in Meifod.

Professor Arwyn Jones, of Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Dr Gareth Llywelyn, of the Medical Society, are setting up an exhibit called Working Polymers.

This will highlight unique features of polymers that make them ideal components of materials we use every day, through to life saving medical devices and nanomedicines.

The Working Polymers exhibit will feature the rugby exhibit and two other exhibits - polymers in nappies and polymers in cardiac stents, which are tubes used to treat narrowed or weakened arteries.

Nappies do their job so well thanks to a water-loving (hydrophilic) polymer that has an amazing capacity to absorb water.

This keeps a baby’s bottom dry and the water inside the nappy.

Those visiting the Science Pavilion will be able to perform experiments showing in a matter of seconds how this polymer absorbs water to more than double its own weight.

Cardiac stents meanwhile help improve blood supply to heart vessels but some also contain a polymer that releases medicines over time to inhibit inflammation.

How this works will be explained along with Cardiff University EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)-funded research focusing on using polymers to target drugs to cancer cells and those causing many other types of diseases. The EPSRC is also partly funding the Eisteddfod activities.