Taking up Rugby for the first time, or coming back to the game after some time away, it is vital that you keep yourself safe and fit with the right clothing and equipment.
Here we advise on the most essential pieces of kit that you will need.
If you are comfortable and happy with your kit, you’ll play better, and if you’re a back you’ll probably prescribe to the theory – look good, feel good, play good!
1. Rugby Boots– Without a doubt the most essential piece of kit you’ll own. Without them you’ll be left for dead scrabbling around in the mud, as the studs on the sole of the boot provide you with all the traction you need to stay upright and in the game.
Choose short studs or moulded for harder surfaces and artificial surfaces – they’ll be gentler on your feet and stave off any blisters from hard surfaces. If you’re in the front five of the scrum you’ll want to wear Soft Ground boots all year round for extra traction in the scrum, preferable something with at least 8 screw in studs.
For the rest of the positions, you’ll want to switch to Soft Ground boots in approximately September or October depending how much rain your local area has encountered. Again, looking at the forwards, once things start to get really mucky you’ll want to change your studs our for a set of 21mm rugby studs – these can’t be beaten for grip.
2. Gum Shield– A gum shield, along with boots, should be the one of the pieces of kit you’ll never be without.
If you have kids, get them used to wearing them from a young age – they take a bit of getting used to but if it becomes a habit from a young age, you’ll be set up for wearing one for life. Remember, you only get one set of adult teeth so look after them.
Your club / coach should not let you play contact rugby without a gum shield.
A gum shield may help prevent concussion as well as protect your teeth – this is because in a high impact situation you jaw may hit your upper teeth with quite some velocity.
Their is a massive range of gum shields available, plenty are boil and bite, some may be dentist fitted, make sure you get advice on what type of mouth protection you need.
For the the boil and bite method – submerge in hot water for the prescribed time and then bite, suck and press all at once to gain the optimum fit. This process can be repeated until the mouth guard stays in place on the upper teeth and does not drop down.
3. Shorts & Socks– Nothing fancy – just a pair of rugby socks and shorts in your team colours will be perfect for playing and training. The socks will give your shins a little bit of protection from scrapes and bashes when pulled up. Rugby shorts are nice and tough and are designed with a contact sport in mind. Not too much stretch so they are good in the tackle and scrummaging situations.
Traditional cotton drill shorts are almost all gone these days, replaced by 100% polyester with stretch panels. They are more comfortable, stay light when wet, breathable and keep their colour much better.
4. Baselayer– When it starts to get chilly for rugby around November, a quality baselayer top - and even shorts - will pay dividends with your happiness on the pitch.
Lightweight clothing that helps to keep you warm and give you better range of motion than lots of layers. Especially worth considering for backs and wingers – your work rate is a little lower than the forwards and with a bit more standing about you’ll feel the cold more. Props will definitely want some base layer shorts – a bit of chaffing on props thighs can be debilitating!
For training consider a pair of compression leggings - they’ll not only keep you warm but will give compression to your entire leg muscles. The benefits being increased blood flow which will help reduce injuries and speed up the recovery process from a hard session – you could even sleep in them for that extra post training recovery.
5. Protection– not on the immediate rush out and buy list but protection in the way of shoulder pads and head guards might be worth considering.
World Rugby laws on protection allow for 10mm of padding on head guards and across the shoulders and only 5mm across the body.
Head guards are the obvious choice for second rows and back rows. As a lock, your head and ears can take a pummeling at scrum time between two props, and as a back row especially open side flankers heads will take quite a few knocks as they are usually putting their head in the wrong place at the bottom of rucks.
Shoulder pads could be considered by any position, it’s not guaranteed but they may help reduce shoulder injuries through impact and if nothing else they leave you feeling like Terminator as you run out on the pitch!
So get your boots and mouth guard sorted and get down to your local rugby club now. Rugby is great sport which teaches outstanding values and discipline along with a tremendous social side, and don’t forget a rugby ballif you’re going down the park on your own!