The selection of boots is absolutely key to your ability to fulfil your potential on the rugby pitch. Unfortunately, there is no ultimately superior boot out there. The virtues of each pair will differ not only from position to position but also from player to player. Each person will then have to factor in the conditions on the day and even the tactics their teams are using for each game.
While this array of conflicting criteria might tempt many into looking for all-round rugby boots, it's worth understanding the extent to which a player can benefit from having a pair of boots perfectly tailored to their style of play. Here, we look in detail at the factors which should affect your decision about which boots to settle for.
For the bigger guys or girls on the pitch, support is absolutely essential. Where your duty in a match is to offer power and stability, having some mid-cut boots will be essential. While they will offer less flexibility than other boots, this stability is of paramount importance not only to your ability to hold ground on the field but also to your ongoing health. There's nothing you'd want less than a twisted ankle keeping you away from the game!
If you can't afford to lose any speed, look for lightweight boots. Not only will you benefit from the lack of weight but you'll find that lightweight boots tend to give a lot more flexibility: which is needed for certain roles.
Lightweight boots are also a wise choice for backs. Low-cut boots will typically have a softer toe area, allowing for greater sensitivity which will benefit you greatly when it comes to pulling off a crucial kick. While you will lose some stability in the weaker structure of the boot, much of the grip can be retained by choosing the right studs.
The studs you opt for will not only be determined by your position and role in the game but also largely by the conditions in which you play. For wet ground, screw-in studs are often the best choice. Screw-in studs are typically longer than their moulded counterparts and will therefore go further to provide the grip that you need. Longer screw-in studs can also make it easier to hook the ball out from a ruck.
There do remain, however, a number of benefits to using soft, moulded studs. If you tend to play on harder surfaces, long studs can actually be a less effective means of grip. In these conditions, it is also possible that the tactics of your team rely more heavily on movement and kicks, rather than slower, grip based plays. When this is the case, it can help to be more nimble on your feet. An added benefit for amateur players is that soft studs are in essence less dangerous than screw-ins.
If conditions are often the same and you're playing in the same position every week, you should have no difficulty settling on a pair. For those who can't be as sure about what to expect each week, there are many great boots out there which are designed for all-round play. While you can expect to make compromises in a number of areas, you are less likely to see the drawbacks which come with playing in the wrong boots altogether.