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Football boots vs rugby boots: Explaining the main differences

How similar or different are football and rugby boots exactly? Our latest guide has the answers.

football boots and rugby boots

If you’re a keen footballer, rugby baller or both, then you may know the differences between the boots needed to play either sport. Then again, it could well be a question that you’ve never really thought about. You may think it’s fine to wear football boots whilst playing rugby or vice versa, but is it recommended?

With that in mind, here at FOOTY.COM, we’ve combined user feedback, professional reviews and our own knowledge to tell you the differences between rugby and football boots, and how to find the perfect pair to suit you.


What are Football Boots?

Football boots date way back to the 1800’s when people would wear their heavy, hard work footwear equipped with steel toe cap, long laces, ankle support and metal studs. Nowadays boots have become a lot more sophisticated and have been adapted to suit the various surfaces the game is played on. When searching for a pair of boots, players are presented with various designs, sole and stud options to suit the surface being used on. Material wise, football boots were traditionally always made of leather but, as time and innovation has developed, they are now tailored to maximise players’ attributes and provide ultimate comfort.

What are Rugby Boots?

Just like football boots, the rugby equivalent have also been around since the 1800’s. Traditionally they were all cut high above the ankle to give players additional support in what is a more physically demanding sport than the one played with the round ball. However, in the modern day, there are now various products to suit players and their various roles they are required to perform over 80 minutes. Like football, rugby boots possess a variety of designs, sole and stud options to suit the surface and demand of each individual. The first rugby boots were made of leather only but, due to issues in wet conditions, they are now manufactured to be extremely durable.


What are the differences between football and rugby boots?

Width

Specialist rugby boots are generally wider than football boots. This is because in rugby, you do not have to kick the ball as regularly and a larger boot provides you with the extra power needed. Football boots are designed to be narrower as you will need a product more lightweight and slimline, allowing for intricate footwork.

Example: Canterbury Stampede 2.0 (rugby)

A classic wide rugby boot is the Canterbury Stampede 2.0 which was built using the brand’s wide-fit Power Last - researched and engineered to give you a more dominant foot position. With its eight metal studs in a 6x2 formation, this product is the perfect fit, if you are a forward looking for maximum power in scrums. Meanwhile its 9mm raised heel provides you with extra support, and the synthetic material throughout is both durable and comfortable.

Cut

The vast majority of football boots are cut low around the ankle, whereas rugby boots are available in low, mid and high cut variations. Higher boots cut are best suited to you if you’re a forward who needs additional ankle support to generate more power at a scrum, ruck or maul. Lower cut rugby boots are a better match if you’re a back as, like footballers, kicking, speed and control is the name of your game over sheer brute force.

Example: Gilbert Celera V3 (rugby)

Another specialist rugby manufacturer, Gilbert have a great high cut boot which is perfect for you if ultimate stability is what you crave. The wide-fitting Celera V3 has eight aluminium studs, measuring 15-18mm, which is perfect if you’re a forward who needs grip and a stable footing while scrummaging. But don’t worry, comfort isn’t sacrificed for practicality as its premium PU leather will also deliver you a soft, supple feel throughout.

Heel

The heel on specialist rugby boots is raised compared to football boots. The thinking behind this design is that it provides you with additional power during a scrum, ruck or maul. Additionally, that extra elevation offered reduces pain in the lower limbs which can only benefit your health in both the short and long-term.

Example: ASICS Lethal Tackle (rugby)

Standing at 10mm, the ASICS Lethal Tackle’s raised heel helps you build up speed and reduces workload on the Achilles tendons, calf muscles, hamstring and back. Meanwhile, maximum comfort and durability is provided to you via a synthetic leather upper and lightweight midsole. Other features include eight metal studs (of which the front six are removable) and a removable EVA sockliner which can accommodate a medical orthotic.


What are the similarities between football and rugby boots?

Material

If you look at rugby and football boots you’d be right to think that they’re made from similar materials. Although the percentage of each material can be higher or lower depending on the manufacturer or model, boots for both sports are made using one or a mix of leather (often kangaroo leather in rugby) and synthetic materials.

Example: Under Armour UA Spotlight (football)

The Under Armour UA Spotlight showcases the DNA makeup of the majority of modern day boots. Its form-fitting synthetic leather upper is super-soft and delivers you extreme comfort, while an anti-microbial Ortholite sockliner provides you with unmatched underfoot cushioning and breathability. Below your comfy foot sits 11 linear studs which increase traction & promote an explosive first step.

Sole

Although stud size and formation can differ between rugby and football there are various soles available across each discipline to suit the surface you will play on. In both sports’ boot market you will find Firm Ground (FG), Soft Ground (SG), Artificial Grass (AG) and Multi-Ground sole options. FG are designed for use on natural dry grass pitches, SG for damp, muddy pitches, AG for 3G/4G surfaces (you know, the ones with the little black bits that follow you around for days), and Multi-Ground for cross-use on grass and artificial pitches.

Example: adidas Predator Mutator 20+ (football)

What better boot to demonstrate various sole options than the newly released adidas Predator Mutator 20+. Available in Firm Ground, Soft Ground, Artificial Grass or Multi-Ground options, the famous adidas range has added to its most iconic football range. The knit textile upper on these laceless boots wraps around your foot for a true 360-degree fit, while new 406 spikes and Demonskin feature will add more spin and swerve on your shots.

Studs

Although there are slight differences in the shape of studs available across both football and rugby, there are more similarities. Both must only be a maximum of 21mm in length and they can be made from either metal, rubber or plastic. When it comes to numbers, footballers and rugby backs traditionally have six conical studs (backs have eight). However, you will see that modern versions of both can now include in excess of 10 studs, which can even be a mix of plastic, metal and rubber.

Example: Nike Phantom Vision Pro Dynamic Fit (football)

A product which demonstrates how much boots have moved on when it comes to studs is the Nike Phantom Vision Pro Dynamic Fit. With 14 studs in total, the Phantom Vision is constructed in flyknit material, with an ultrathin layer of vacuum molded film, which increases durability and offers you a real lightweight feel. It also possesses a stable QuadFit Mesh inner boot, supportive Dynamic Fit Collar and Ghost Lace system to help you hit the cleanest strike possible.


Can I wear football boots in rugby and rugby boots in football?

The rules state that you can wear football boots for rugby but only if you have the correct studs. If you have screw-in studs you will need to remove and switch studs between playing each sport. For boots without screw-ins, it’s important you check that your studs fall within the laws of the game at the level you play at. But even if it is legal to wear the same boots across both sports, that doesn’t mean you should. If you have a pair of rugby boots the feel on these wouldn’t be as great as with a pair of football boots, meaning if you were playing the latter then ball control and passing accuracy could suffer. The same goes for trying to play rugby in a pair of football boots. Although they might prove adequate for backs, forwards will find they do not offer as much protection, stability or power in scrums, mauls and rucks.

The general rule is it’s easier to play rugby in football boots rather than football in rugby boots, but only if you’re a back.


Why do rugby players wear football boots?

As we’ve previously said, rugby players can choose to wear football boots and – if you want the Six Nations, you will see some of the stars do. Players playing in the four backs positions (scrum-half, fly-half, centre and wing) are more likely to opt to wear football boots because their game is more about speed and kicking. This means the fact football boots are more lightweight and designed for feel rather than just power benefits their style more than what a pair of rugby boots would.


Can you put rugby studs on football boots?

The only time you can put rugby studs on football boots is if both pairs have removable studs. You will then have to see if the rugby studs you have fit that particular boot. This is important because if they are not compatible it could impact on your performance or, more importantly, cause an injury. When it comes to blades, they are permitted for use in both sports. However, they are not removable, so you wouldn’t be able to swap from rugby boot to football boot or back again.


Where can I buy cheap football and rugby boots?

Whilst manufacturer’s official online stores are good places to start, you’ll only be able to view that particular brand’s product range. When it comes to football boots, there are countless of amazing options on the market so you wouldn’t want to miss out on your dream pair, would you? So, if you want to make sure you keep your eye on the ball check out FOOTY.COM.

Here we compare prices from all a wide range retailers and more. Prices are updated regularly, so it’s well worth bookmarking any pages for cheap football boots you’re after to ensure you bag a winner.

We hope we’ve helped you work out the differences between football and rugby boots so you can confidently start your mission to find your perfect pair.

A football enthusiast who's scored as many Premier League goals as Lionel Messi.