To the casual observer, it might appear that rugby and football (soccer) boots are the same. Ask rugby and football players, however, and they will tell you there is a world of difference between the two. Furthermore, the rules of rugby issued by the governing body have a strict set of criteria that all players' boots and, in particular, the boots' studs, must meet. One basic thing to remember is that football boots are designed for kicking the ball, while according to Sportscomet.com, rugby boots are designed for "power transference."
Rugby and football boots are both a different shape and size. While the overall size is, of course, determined by the foot size of the player, rugby boots are typically wider and have larger, more rounded toes than their football counterparts. Almost all football boots are worn solely around the foot, with the highest part of the footwear a crescent shape that molds to the underside of the player's ankle joint. Many rugby boots, particularly those worn by front-row players, have a much higher cut, providing additional support and strength to the ankle, which can come under intense strain during the course of a rugby match.
One of the clearest differences between football and rugby cleats is the size and style of the studs on the underside of the boot. Rugby studs are commonly longer, thicker and made of sturdier material. Furthermore, rugby studs are always basically round, although they sometimes have some tread to increase a player's grip. The International Rugby Board's Regulation 12 has strict criteria that a player's studs must meet, which limits the variety seen in the type of studs.The rules relating to a soccer player's studs are less strict, with no specific provisions in FIFA's laws of the game, other than that the equipment must not be dangerous. As a result, the two main categories of studs are similar to rugby studs, only smaller and narrower; there are also molded blades.
Fundamentally, rugby and football boots serve different functions, which is why they are composed differently. Rugby boots are designed primarily to protect the foot and ankle and provide a solid base from which players can tackle, ruck, maul and scrimmage against one another. While there is some kicking involved in the sport, player safety and strength are deemed more important that providing the perfect kicking boot. In soccer, however, there is less of an emphasis on protection of the foot, which has previously courted criticism from professional coaches and has seen an increase in foot injuries, such as broken metatarsals. Soccer boots are focused on being as lightweight as possible, increasing both the player's foot speed and overall agility. Many football boots also have many stylized features on the fascia designed to boost the amount of curve and power a player can put on the ball.
Variations Within Rugby and Football
While there are many differences between rugby and football boots, there are also great variations among those worn by players within the two sports. For example, defensive players in football are advised to wear thicker, sturdier boots, as they often find themselves in one-on-one tackling situations, and so their feet come under a more significant strain. Wingers in both rugby and football require both speed and acceleration, so they wear thinner, more lightweight boots.
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