The Rugby Boots Buying Guide from Muddy Rhino covers everything you need to know before you make a purchase. Buying rugby boots is becoming more complex thanks to the introduction of new technologies and an increasing number of brands. Once you’ve read through this handy Rugby Boots Buying Guide you may want to check out our rugby boots reviews.
Size & fit
Rugby boots follow conventional sizes. But remember you will most likely be wearing a thicker pair of socks, or in some cases two pairs of socks (ankle socks and knee-high rugby socks). The best fit rugby boots should fit tightly and snugly without being uncomfortable. The Kakari range from Adidas and the Stampede range from Canterbury offer a ‘wide fit’ design to help the seeming increasingly ever bigger rugby players.
Tight 5 – When you’re playing at the coalface of rugby you require rugby boots with better protection from being trampled in the ruck; More durability to withstand the extreme pressures whilst scrummaging; Better grip to help keep your footing when driving forward. Rugby boots for front row and second row players are typically heavier. In most cases they have a fitted heel and more studs on the front part of the sole.
Loose Forwards – When you’re playing at the back of the pack you need rugby boots with decent protection for contesting rucks and mauls. You need a lighter weight boot to help with explosiveness in defence, and added stability to assist with changes in attacking direction. Rugby boots for flankers and number eight positions are typically lighter than boots worn by the Tight 5 but heavier than backs. Often loose forwards boots will have torsion control or lateral foot control for forceful changes in direction or speed.
Backs – When speed is your main attacking weapon you need rugby boots that are lightweight. The downside to that is protection is often sacrificed to keep the weight down. Stud configurations will differ from forwards boots as you will need to change direction more quickly. Rugby boots for backs are becoming increasingly lighter due to advances in synthetic materials. Often the rugby boots worn by backs offer the least in terms of foot protection and durability. The number of studs is almost always less for backs to help keep the weight down. Although, a new wave of hybrid stud configurations (screw-in & moulded) are being introduced to give the optimum traction to weight ratio.
Kicker – As the team goal kicker you need rugby boots that give you confidence to influence the game with your feet. You need a rugby boot that has a large sweet spot for kicking with accuracy and distance. Plus, you need good grip for your standing leg. Rugby boots for kickers are typically lighter than those worn by forwards. This is due to the technical features, including kicking zones and stud configurations. But they won’t be as light as the backs rugby boots.
Soft ground (SG) – If the playing surface is soft or very wet then you need a pair of rugby boots that offer excellent grip. Traditionally metal screw-in studs are preferred for soft grounds. Forwards rugby boots will typically have an eight stud configuration. Six studs at the front and two on the heel for better grip during scrummaging. Backs rugby boots will often have a six stud configuration. Four studs at the front and two on the heel to keep boots lightweight. A new generation of rugby boots with hybrid stud configurations offer a combination of traditional screw-in studs and moulded studs. This gives to you good grip with less weight. Rugby boots with Blades are permitted by the regulations of World Rugby and can offer good traction. They also offer the convenience of studs not getting loose or being lost.
Firm ground (FG) – If the playing surface is hard then you need a pair of rugby boots that are a little more forgiving. Traditionally rugby boots for firm ground have a greater number of plastic or rubber studs moulded into the sole. This helps spread the body weight over a greater surface of the foot which can, on firm grounds, help improve speed and changes in direction. On firm ground the additional studs are more forgiving to the sole.
Rugby Boot Sections
Upper –This is the area of the rugby boot that covers the top of the foot. Traditionally the best rugby boots would use a kappa or kangaroo leather. Today new synthetic materials offer a better weight/performance ratio. These new materials enable exciting new designs and colours.
Outsole – This is the area of the boot that holds the studs. Originally rugby boots used traditional leather materials. Today they use new generations of plastics that seamlessly integrate the upper and midsole.
Heel – This is the area of the rugby boot that covers the rear bottom of the foot. Traditionally rugby boots had a flat sole. Today brands such as Adidas and Asics offer a raised heel of 5mm and 10mm respectively. The raised heel is applied for reduced strain on your lower leg. It also helps to promote speed by forcing you to run on your toes like an Olympic sprinter.
Midsole – This is the section of the rugby boot between the insole and the outsole on the ground. Traditionally rugby boots used dense and strong plastics. Today they are using new plastics with hollow cavity sections to reduce weight but added strength.
The colour of rugby boots were traditionally dictated by their leather. Usually a natural dark brown or black colour. As rugby boot manufacturers added their signature brand marks, such as the Adidas 3 stripes, we began to see flashes of white.
Today their rugby field will showcase a rainbow rugby boot colours. The choice of colours is largely dictated by fashion or through advances in synthetic materials.
Professional players often use bright neon colours to help distinguish themselves on the field. It is often said that players will choose a bright colour to help selectors identify them in a trial situation.
However, the colour of a players rugby boots can have an impact on a game. Forwards all wearing the same colour boots could make a player less identifiable in the unfortunate event of a misplaced foot at the ruck. We also believe that all backs could benefit from wearing white boots in the event that they creep onto a white coloured touchline. A referee or touch judge oversight in these situations could add up to that 1% difference between winning and losing a game.
Kids rugby boots are typically available is UK sizes 1-5. The selection of rugby boots for kids can be less. Kids rugby boots are also likely to have less technical features. With this in mind, brands such as Adidas and Canterbury don’t offer the professional rugby boots in kids sizes. However they do offer a decent selection in similar styles and colours of rugby boots.
Beginner rugby boots are typically made from cheaper synthetic materials. They tend to be heavier and less durable. Often they are absent of any technical features. Colours and designs can be a little basic. Prices typically range from £25-40.
Advanced rugby boots are typically made from traditional leather or synthetic materials lighter than the beginner rugby boots. They may have a few technical features to help players have that edge. Often manufacturers will design their advanced rugby boots with looks very similar to the professional models. Prices typically range from £45-80.
Professional rugby boots are typically made from either premium leather grades or new advanced synthetic materials that are lighter and stronger. They may have an increased number of technical features to help the best players stay at the top of their game. The looks and colours used professional rugby boots are sometimes reserved exclusively for the top models in the range. Prices typically range from £85-160+.
Football boots are commonly worn by rugby players, brands such as Nike and their neon-bright football boots are increasingly being worn by the backs. This does give us rugby players a greater choice of designs, colours and price points. Football boots are typically very light yet often offer less protection and durability for the rigours of rugby. The stud configurations on football boots are limited in comparison to rugby boots.
Rugby Boots Buying Guide Summary
It is recommended that you choose a pair of rugby boots suited to the position, playing surface and playing level of the player.
Note: Muddy Rhino will update this Rugby Boots Buying Guide from time to time to ensure it covers the latest advances in rugby boots.