As exciting as it is to buy a fresh pair of rugby boots, it can feel a bit like a minefield. There are a lot of options to choose from - soft or firm ground? Moulded or metal studs? Knowing what’s best can be difficult. That’s why we’ve put together the answers to our most frequently asked questions about rugby boots to help make your decision easier.
Are rugby boots different to football boots?
Although rugby boots and football boots are designed with different needs in mind, both are worn by rugby players.
Rugby boots are designed for stability and power, whereas football boots focus more on speed and agility. Rugby boots generally have a slightly raised heel and have more studs than football boots.
Depending on position, some rugby players opt for football boots. For example, backs tend to kick more and need a focus on agility, so football boots are more suitable.
Rugby boots also tend to be wider than football boots, as there’s not as much kicking involved in rugby. Wider boots also provide more power.
Which rugby boots should I buy?
When buying rugby boots, one of the most important things to consider is the ground quality.
When the ground is wet and muddy, soft ground boots are the ones to go for. Soft ground boots provide more stability and tend to have longer studs, which is particularly important for players in forward positions who require extra stability for scrums and rucks.
In drier seasons, firm ground boots are more appropriate. Firm ground boots tend to have shorter, moulded studs for more stability on hard ground.
What are rugby boots made of?
Rugby boots tend to be made of either leather, synthetic materials, or a mixture of the two. Both have different benefits -Leather moulds to the shape of your feet but isn’t very water-resistant, whereas synthetic boots are more water-resistant and lightweight.
The material of the studs also varies and depends on the type of boots. Moulded studs are permanently attached to the boots and are usually made of rubber, these are most common on firm ground boots. Detachable studs are made of aluminium and allow players to tailor their boots. They are usually found on soft ground boots and tend to wear more evenly, meaning they last longer than moulded boots.
Should rugby boots be a size bigger?
As a general rule, rugby boots should fit as snugly to the end of the foot as possible but not touch the toes - ideally leaving ½ inch between the end of the toes and the boot.
Rugby boots tend to come up slightly small, so those with broader feet might need to go up by half a size.
Women’s sizing differs slightly, with boots being smaller by around one size and a half compared to regular shoe sizes. Therefore if a woman normally wears a size 7 shoe, she would wear a size 5.5 rugby boot.
How to clean rugby boots
However tempting it may be to throw your boots in the washing machine, it’s a really bad idea! The washing cycle will damage the integrity of your boots, and it’s no good for the machine itself either.
Hand washing is by far the best option for maintaining your boots. Just follow these simple steps:
- Remove any visible dirt from the boot and studs. Either bang them together or use your hands to remove any mud and debris.
- Remove the laces and soak in detergent, or put them in a closable mesh bag and pop them in the washing machine - laces are the ONLY thing that can go in the washing machine!
- Begin cleaning with a damp cloth, using only warm water initially.
- For more stubborn dirt, try using a mixture of baking soda and water - it won’t damage the boot, and it helps reduce odour as well.
- Finish up by wiping the boots off with warm water to remove any leftover solution.
How to stop rugby boots from smelling
Playing rugby is a very sweaty business, so smelly boots are unavoidable. However, there are a few things you can do to prevent the odour.
The best preventative measure for your boots is to make sure you get them dry as quickly as possible. Leaving boots festering in your bag is a recipe for disaster, so get them out of there pronto.
Weather permitting, leaving boots to dry in the fresh air is one of the best options as the sun helps to kill the odour-creating bacteria.
Another option is to fill boots with old newspapers to speed up the drying process. The newspaper helps absorb moisture whilst helping the boots keep their shape. Swap out the newspaper every two to three hours for the most effective result.
Whilst it might be tempting to throw your rugby boots in the tumble dryer or use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process, you really should avoid this at all costs. Excessive heat will only damage your boots, causing materials to crack and split and break down adhesives that are holding the boots together. Letting your rugby boots air dry may take longer but is worth the wait to help them last.
As we mentioned before, baking soda and water are great solutions for reducing odours. However, when your boots are already dry, you can use baking soda on its own - simply pour some into the boots and let them sit for 24 hours before tipping it out.
How to stretch rugby boots
As exciting as a new pair of rugby boots are, they don’t come without the age-old struggle of breaking them in.
Don’t worry, though. We have a few tips to make the process a little less painful.
- Wear them around the house for short periods of time
- Go for short walks in a local park
- Use an adjustable shoe stretcher
- Stuff with old newspaper (do this when the boots are dry and jam in as much newspaper as you can)
- Wear during training sessions for short periods, swap to old boots when they start to get uncomfortable
How to lace rugby boots
How you lace your rugby boots depends on a number of factors and is ultimately down to personal preference. However, one common method involves lacing the boots slightly differently around the ankle to increase support and “lock” the heel into place. Many players find this way of lacing increases the dynamics of their play, so it's worth a shot if this is an area you want to improve.
- Remove laces from the top holes on either side of the boot.
- Re-thread the lace through the top hole on the same side, forming a loop that comes out and goes back in on the same side.
- Thread the end of the laces into the opposite loop on each side, crossing them in the middle.
- Pull tight and tie as normal, ensuring the loops are pulled tight against the boot.
Now you’ve got some more guidance to work with, why not take a look at the full range of rugby boots available here at Absolute Rugby. For more advice, news and all things rugby, be sure to visit our blog.