Rugby Gear Essentials
Rugby has a long and storied history as a rugged contact game that emphasizes strength and speed. While it hasn't caught on as a major spectator sport in North America, it retains a huge following worldwide in all age groups. Rugby does, however, enjoy wide participation at many high schools and universities, and attracts both genders for its character-building qualities of teamwork, endurance and perseverance. Make no mistake, it can be rough, but proper rugby equipment can improve performance and safety.
Types of Rugby Gear
Like a North American-style football, a rugby ball is inflatable, but slightly shorter, fatter and heavier (and minus the laces). A rugby ball is designed to be rolled, kicked or tossed underhand. Match-quality rugby balls are usually made of natural rubber for superior grip. Practice balls have synthetic or composite rubber covers. Rugby balls come in four sizes for different age groups. For rugby training or recreational use, look for a Size 5 model with a weather-resistant, synthetic cover.
Mouth protection is recommended for any contact sport, and rugby is no exception. A properly fitted rugby mouthguard cushions your jaw, protects your teeth and reduces the risk of concussion. Standard mouthguards are still common, but the “boil-and-bite” type provides a near-custom fit and is becoming increasingly popular. There are also more complex mouthguard molding kits that you can purchase and send out to a lab or obtain and process through your dentist.
Certain situations in rugby, including the scrum and the ruck, involve players massing together in what can be a painful struggle for possession of the ball. A padded rugby vest is a protective undergarment that has built-in compartments to cushion high-contact areas such as the shoulders, chest and collarbone. Rugby vests are made of breathable, synthetic material and lightweight foam and come in versions designed for men, women and youth. Players at the front of the scrum, called “props,” are likely to benefit most from an extra layer of rugby protective gear.
Rugby players use their hands to catch and toss the ball and to tackle opponents, often in cold, wet weather. Rugby gloves provide excellent grip and protect fingers and hands from abrasions, and from becoming numb due to exposure. Experts recommend fleece-lined gloves for late-fall and winter matches and unlined, stretchy gloves for warmer weather. Sticky, silicon patterns on the palm and fingers make ball handling easier under the worst conditions. Some rugby gloves feature a “half-finger” design that provide grip close to the palm while leaving the fingertips exposed.
Training involves specific rugby drills designed to improve footwork and agility. A set of practice cones can be a useful tool for marking routes and sidelines on your field or practice area. A weighted vest builds strength in mature bodies by providing added resistance while exercising. Hydration is also important: begin every session with a full water bottle and refill it as needed.
Comfort, support and traction are the main considerations when you shop for a pair of rugby shoes. Top-end models are made of lightweight, breathable kangaroo leather. For kids, synthetic uppers are fine. Rugby cleats usually have eight to 10 studs; soccer cleats, in comparison, have up to 16. Interchangeable, screw-style studs allow you to adjust the stud length for different fields and conditions. High-top cleats provide extra support and ankle protection, but many players prefer the mobility and freedom of low-cut cleats. Cleats come in both metal and plastic types, but some leagues (like most high school and varsity leagues) only permit plastic for safety reasons. Check your organization’s rules before making a purchase.
You probably have a leisure-wear rugby shirt in your closet, but it’s nothing like the authentic rugby jerseys used in competition. The latest match-quality rugby shirts are made of a rugged polyester or cotton-polyester blend and designed to be worn skin tight. Synthetics are preferred because they're lighter than natural fibres, shed moisture and are harder to grip by opposing tacklers. Round or V-neck collars are replacing the traditional white stand-up collar, but you can still buy a classic rugby shirt with distinctive block colours or broad, horizontal stripes for relaxed wear.
Rugby shorts must be tough enough to withstand constant pulling, tugging and contact without restricting freedom of movement. The fit should be comfortable but not too baggy. Reinforced polyester or poly-cotton blends are the preferred materials. International rules forbid any kind of metal buckle or rigid fastener, so a drawstring waist is standard on most rugby shorts. Sewn-in padding is also disallowed; so many players choose to wear padded compression shorts underneath their rugby shorts for an extra layer of protection.
A rugby helmet is known as a scrum cap. By rule, rugby headgear contains no hard plastic, only a thin layer of foam protection for the skull and ears secured by a chin strap. Most scrum caps resemble a matrix of small padded chambers similar to bubble wrap. They're extremely lightweight and built to absorb minor blows to the forehead, sides and top of the head while leaving the face exposed. Scrum caps come in all sizes and should be well ventilated and adjustable for a snug but comfortable fit.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.