Rugby Boots vs Multi-sport Cleats: 3 Most Asked Questions
1. What unique aspects of rugby boots enhance a Rugby player's performance?
Cut: Rugby boots are available in low, mid and high cut variations. Low-cut is best for running. The mid-cut are best for support and stability. The high cut enhances grip, support, and balance.
Historically, rugby boots were designed with a higher ankle cut and hard toe to increase stability and support around the ankle and provide more protection to the foot for the physical demands of rugby. This makes them heavier than other boots and best for players in the forward position who need more support for increased power in a scrum, ruck or maul.
Today, manufacturers offer rugby boots that are lower cut and lighter weight. Some feature a neoprene sock for support and increased grip force, while maintaining a lightweight construction. These boots work well for rugby backs for whom speed, control and kicking are more important that sheer physical strength. Modern rugby boots also come with a variety of sole and stud options to suit different playing surfaces and the demands of each position.
Width: Rugby boots are generally wider than other boots providing a larger contact zone for extra power, as rugby players do not kick the ball as often or use intricate footwork.
Heel: Rugby boots have a raised heel that creates a dynamic foot position for added power in a scrum, ruck or maul.
2. Can I wear a multi-sport (soccer, lacrosse, football) cleat to play Rugby?
Legally, yes. Rugby players can and do sometimes wear multi-sport boots, especially soccer cleats, on the rugby pitch. As far as regulations go, multi-sport boots are legal to wear in rugby as long as they have the correct studs - meaning the studs are not deemed sharp or abrasive, a risk of potential injury to one’s opponent or oneself. It is up to the referee to determine if one’s studs are safe.
Molded Studs: Players should avoid wearing boots with molded studs on hard surfaces such as concrete, so that the studs do not too quickly become worn and sharpened.
Blades: Blades are a version of molded studs but are long and thin rather than a peg-like shape. Blades are permitted in rugby as long as they are not too sharp.
Screw In/Replaceable Studs: If you are switching the studs between sports, it is key to make sure one’s rugby studs are compatible with the multi-sport boot, so that they do not negatively impact performance or cause injury. Rugby studs can be no longer than 21 mm.
3. Should athletes wear multi-sport cleats when playing rugby?
The low down on this is that if you are a rugby back, playing in a multi-sport boot works, as your game is more about speed and kicking than sheer physical force, and these boots are lighter weight and designed for increased feel on the ball rather than power and support.