How To Choose Rugby Boots (Plus Rugby vs Football Boots)
Unlike other team sports, it is not simply a case of one style works for all when it comes to rugby boots. Here’s our take.
Rugby League players will be starting to think about the end of their season, yet for Rugby Union players, the season is just about to start. The two Rugby codes vary in terms of rules and playing style, and the differences impact upon the most suitable rugby boots for you as well.
Things To Consider
The main thing to emphasise in terms of the size is that you'll be wearing the boots with thick rugby socks. Therefore when trying the boots on for the first time, make sure you wear your rugby socks to ensure that you end up with the right fit. If you wear your everyday socks, the boot may feel too tight when you come to play in them for the first time.
This is one of the main differences between the most suitable boots for Rugby Union and Rugby League players. Rugby Union, as a winter sport, is often played on very soft ground. Whilst heavy or persistent rain can make the ground conditions soft in the summer too, Rugby League players would expect to play on firmer surfaces than their Union counterparts. In particular, this will influence the type of stud that is most suitable for the conditions.
Screw-In Studs for Muddy Pitches
If you play on muddy pitches, we recommend boots with screw-in studs (SG: soft ground)
Boots with 8 aluminium studs will provide good traction and support during push phases, especially scrums. These boots are mainly designed for prop forwards and the second row (numbers1,2,3,4 and 5).
Hybrid Sole for Muddy Pitches (Can also be worn on dry pitches)
If you're playing on a muddy or wet pitch, you can also choose a hybrid sole. Thanks to the mixed composition of moulded and screw-in studs, these boots are lighter-weight while retaining their high-performance grip. You gain versatility. Your running and changes of direction improve. This type of "hybrid" sole can also be worn on pitches that are dry. These boots are mainly designed for third lines, centres, or the back row (11,12,13,14,15). Half-backs (9 and 10) can also use this type of sole. We do not recommend this type of sole for forwards and second row.
Moulded Soles for Dry Pitches
If you play on dry or synthetic pitches, opt for a pair of boots with "moulded" (FG) studs. They will be lighter and lower impact. You won't lose traction, and you'll gain speed.
Note that these boots are meant for backs (9 to 15). For static phases (scrums or tackles), the front row needs more traction and should use screw-in studs). However, forwards will be better with moulded studs for training at the start or end of the season when the pitch is dry!
There are various rules relating to the design and construction of studs, including a maximum length of 21mm for Rugby Union players. At Decathlon we sell both 18mm metal studs and 13mm rubber studs. Both the length and material of the studs will influence their suitability. Longer studs help to provide increased grip on softer surfaces, whilst on firmer surfaces a shorter stud can help with your speed and changes in direction. Equally, the inflexibility of a metal stud will provide extra grip, whilst the minor flexibility of a rubber stud will again improve speed and changes in direction. The best advice is to buy both shorter and longer studs and then change as necessary according to conditions for optimal performance. Remember to ensure your studs are tight and in good condition with no sharp edges before each game - not only will this help your performance, it is for the safety of the other players on the pitch too.
Blades And Moulded Studs
Over the past 20 years, the use of rubber blades rather than studs has become increasingly popular, developing on traditional moulded studs. There are a few advantages to moulded studs and blades as opposed to screw-in studs. The most basic is that the studs do not get loose - this is more of a matter of convenience really, as regularly checking screw-in studs can prevent this from being a problem. If you're looking to play Rugby and Football but don't want the expense of two pairs of boots, blades or moulded studs mean that you don't have to change the studs each time.
From a performance perspective, blades can help in terms of speed and movement, and provide a good level of grip on firmer surfaces. The major downside is the inflexibility of the fixed blade or stud length, which can be a problem particularly on softer ground. Therefore blades and moulded studs are perhaps more suitable for Rugby League players than Union players, but can be an option in both codes, particularly for the backs.
Position and role in the team are very important in identifying the right pair of boots. As a Union forward, rucks, mauls and scrummages will be a major part of your game. In these situations, there are two features that will be particularly important - grip and protection. Slipping is not only inconvenient but can be dangerous for yourself and others, so maximum grip is essential. Forwards will commonly wear longer studs than their counterparts in the backs for this reason. Protection comes in various forms, and the strength of the upper of the boot is a key one. In tight forward play, teammates and opponents will tread on your feet fairly regularly, and therefore the more protection your boots provide, the lower the risk of injury. Some forwards also favour a higher cut on the boot to provide additional ankle support. Whilst rucking, mauling and scrummaging are either not present or not as important in Rugby League, good grip and protection will still be important to help the forwards make the hard yards.
For the Front and Second Row
If you're playing prop forward or second row, the best sole has 8 studs. No matter the conditions of the pitch (dry or muddy), 8 studs are often needed for traction in a scrum, line-outs, or dynamic phases (maul/spontaneous scrum). When you play in the third row you can also use the 8-stud soles (SG), a 6-stud sole, or even a hybrid sole. It all depends on how you feel during play. The pitch also plays an important role in your choice.
For Back Row and Backs
This all depends on the pitch conditions. Hybrid and moulded soles are the most suitable. Hybrid soles can suit many positions on the pitch. Third lines, guards or hookers - this sole's versatility offers many combinations. Since the sole is divided between moulded and screw-in studs, you can change the height of your studs. A major asset for the front row when the pitch calls for it. Boots with moulded soles are suitable for backs on dry pitches. With a lighter sole that offers sufficient support, these boots provide more dynamism and flexibility for easier running and changes of direction.
For Backs and Children
We recommend moulded soles (FG) for backs playing on dry or synthetic pitches. As seen previously, the lightness of the boot and a comfortable bounce for changes of direction provide excellent sensations during play. As a reminder, the positions involved are 9, 10 (half-backs) then 11 to 15 (back row).
For children up to 12, we recommend playing only with moulded boots no matter the position.
Are Football Boots Okay?
Football boots are permitted within the rules, provided the studs are legal. If you are using screw-in studs, you will need to switch studs every time you switch sport, but otherwise, you will be allowed to wear the same pair of boots for both Football and Rugby. The question is, should you? After all, the market for football boots is bigger than for rugby boots, giving you more choice.
Rugby Boots vs Football Boots
The main issue to consider is the compromise between feel and protection from the upper. Football boots highly prioritise feel over protection, meaning that football boots are generally lighter and definitely help you to kick with greater accuracy, so can be worth considering if kicking is a regular part of your game. If you are not a regular kicker however, it will be more useful to have the extra protection afforded by a rugby boot. One final aspect to consider is whether you intend to play both Rugby and Football in the same pair of boots. If this is the case, it is arguably easier to play Rugby in football boots rather than the other way round.
As always, factors such as fit and price will be important for you, but beyond this two major factors should influence your decision about which pair of rugby boots to buy. The first will be the ground conditions - over the season will moulded studs or blades be sufficient, or will you require the flexibility of screw-in studs? The second is to assess your role in the team - what features will be the most valuable in your game, protection and grip or speed and precision? Once you are able to answer these questions, you will be able to identify a pair of boots that will be able to meet your needs.
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