Rugby cleats: An easy guide to the perfect choice

Rugby Cleats - The Complete Guide

If you are new to the world of rugby, it is possible that the wide variety of types of rugby cleats may seem overwhelming. Abbreviations such as SF, FG, FG/AG, and types of studs for rugby cleats can seem extremely difficult to understand for a beginner. Once you start reading about them, you’ll see that it’s actually not that complex.

In this article, I share everything you need to know about rugby cleats and their types. Once you’re done, it will be much easier for you to choose the right rugby cleats.

Guide: How To Choose the right rugby cleats

In addition to being in good physical shape, you also need some suitable rugby cleats to perform on the rugby pitch and help your team win.

Throughout the match or training, the right pair of rugby cleats must be comfortable and enhance your physical abilities.

If you play with inadequate rugby cleats, you risk getting injured and not excelling in the game.

When choosing the right rugby cleats, you must consider the following:

  • Cut

    Among the first factors is the cut of the rugby cleats. Try to think about what needs you have on the field. Do you play better when you feel like your ankle is locked in?

    If you prefer maximum support, try high-top rugby cleats. For those who want total freedom when playing and do not feel the need for the ankle to be protected, it is good to choose low-top rugby cleats.

    Everything depends on your preference and how you feel more comfortable and better when moving on the field.

  • Material

    Most rugby cleats are made of leather, but there are also pairs made of synthetic mesh or TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane).

    All these materials have advantages and disadvantages.

    If you don’t want to spend a fortune, you can opt for synthetic rugby cleats. Synthetic rugby cleats are cheaper than leather ones and can be found in many more colors and patterns. They are lightweight and completely waterproof. The disadvantages of synthetic rugby cleats are that in wet conditions they become slippery and their durability, although long, does not exceed that of leather ones.

    Leather rugby cleats are a bit more expensive, more durable, and longer-lasting than synthetic ones. The leather rugby cleats may seem a bit uncomfortable at first, but after the break-in period, they offer a sock-like fit. However, a minus of leather rugby cleats is that they can expand more than necessary over time.

    Ultimately, the choice between leather and synthetic rugby cleats depends on a player’s individual needs.

  • Sizes

    The rugby cleats must offer you comfort and be the right size for your feet.

    I recommend trying on rugby cleats with rugby socks. If you wear normal socks, the rugby cleats feel tighter on your feet.

  • Ground surface & stud configuration

    The ground surface and stud configuration must be chosen to measure.

    If you compete in winter on wet and soft ground, try to take a pair of rugby cleats known as SF with greater studs coverage on the outsole. For firm and artificial, search for FG or FG/AG rugby cleats.

  • Height of studs

    The height of studs influences your traction and stability on the pitch.

    The longer studs are only good for soft ground, while the shorter ones help you on firm ground. If you opted for rugby cleats with screw-in studs, buy a shorter pair and a longer one for soft pitches.

    In the case of rugby cleats with molded studs, the best is to have two pairs of cleats: one with longer studs and one with shorter ones.

  • Position you play

    Consider the type of position you play and choose cleats that are designed for forwards, centers, or backs.

    The forwards need constant grip and durability, while the backs and centers require extra speed and lightweight rugby cleats.

Types of rugby cleats based on cut

The rugby cleats can be primarily classified based on cut or height.

Thus they are divided into low-top, mid-top, and high-top rugby cleats. Each of them offers a certain level of ankle support and protection.

Let’s explore closely each of them.

Low-top rugby cleats

Low-top rugby cleats
I start with the low-top rugby cleats or boots because they offer the lowest level of foot support.

In this type of rugby cleats, your ankle is not covered at all. The cut of this type of cleat stops just below the ankle.

It offers no protection, no support, and no coverage of the ankle.

All these are not negative things, but on the contrary, they are benefits for players looking for a pair of rugby cleats to offer them agility and speed.

The low-top design ensures a good range of motion for the foot without limiting it.

The low-top rugby cleats are the lightest of all models. Their low weight helps the rugby player to reach maximum speed during the game.

Mid-top rugby cleats

Mid-top rugby cleats

The mid-top rugby cleats have a slightly higher height than the low-top ones. They do not completely cover the ankle, but only half of it. This extra height feels very good during the game. They provide greater ankle stability than low-tops.

In terms of weight, mid-top rugby cleats are slightly heavier than low-top cleats due to their higher design. These cleats are for those who want a bit of ankle support without compromising agility.

High-top rugby cleats

High-top rugby cleats

The high-top rugby cleats or boots have a design with a high cut. Compared to the previous two types, these cleats completely cover the ankle. The high-top rugby cleats stop above the ankle.

The ankle is completely locked in the cleats. Of course, this extensive coverage also comes with extra weight. Of all three, the high-top rugby cleats are the heaviest.

This high-cut design reduces the flexibility and maneuverability of the foot but increases the support and stability of the ankle.

The high-top rugby cleats best prevent ankle injuries.

Types of rugby cleats based on stud configuration and sole

The stud configuration of rugby cleats decides exactly how much traction a player has on the rugby pitch. You want to have the best stud configuration because if not your speed, agility, and power to take off will suffer.

The stud configuration is closely connected with the type of surface you play on, but also with the position. First, let me show you the types of rugby cleats according to stud configuration.

The type of stud for rugby cleats can be different from screw-in studs to conical or bladed studs. But first, let me show you the types of rugby cleats according to stud configuration.

8-stud Rugby Cleats vs 6-stud Rugby Cleats

8-stud Rugby Cleats

The rugby cleats with an 8-stud configuration have 8 studs on the outsole. They are the most recommended if you play in the wet season and on muddy pitches.

These rugby cleats perform great and ensure maximum traction in rucks, scrums, and mauls. The 8-stud configuration rugby cleats guarantee the best level of traction.

6-stud Rugby Cleats

The 6-stud configuration rugby cleats come with a number of six studs on the outsole. Unlike those with 8, these rugby cleats have strategic placement of those six studs.

These 6 studs are arranged in a triangular pattern. In the front part of the outsole, there are 3 studs, and in the back part another 3 studs.

This stud configuration does not offer maximum traction like those with 8, but they increase the player’s agility. It helps distribute the player’s weight evenly to be able to accelerate quickly and be agile.

Having a smaller number of studs, these rugby cleats weigh even less.

I want to specify here that there are also other stud configurations for rugby cleats like the ones with 10, 11, and even 13 studs. However, the 6-stud configuration and 8-stud configuration rugby cleats are among the most common and preferred by rugby players.

Table 1. 8-stud Rugby Cleats vs 6-stud Rugby Cleats (pro & cons)
8 stud configuration6 Stud configuration
  • Maximum traction on muddy and soft fields
  • Increased grip due to the number of studs
  • Ensure great flexibility to the feet
  • It has a lower weight
  • It has a heavier weight
  • Delivers less flexibility
  • Less traction on muddy or wet fields

Types of rugby cleats based on ground type

The rugby cleats can also be classified according to the surface on which they are played. In fact, it is one of the vital factors that you must take into consideration for good performance without injuries.

To benefit from stability and traction, the rugby cleats and the ground must have a great interaction. Here, there are cleats for soft ground, firm or hard ground, and artificial or turf ground.

Let’s see which of these rugby cleats can give you the confidence you need on the pitch.

Rugby cleats for soft ground (SG)

The rugby cleats for soft ground are designed for use on wet or muddy pitches. These types of rugby cleats generally have an 8-stud configuration for stability. The studs for the soft ground are longer and wider than others. The longer studs dig to the soft surface, minimizing falls and slips. All these together provide additional grip on the soft surfaces.

The soft ground rugby cleats are not suitable for firm or artificial surfaces.

Rugby Cleats for Firm Ground (FG)

The rugby cleats for firm or hard ground are worn during the dry period of the year or on dry pitches. They are an ideal choice for those that play regularly play on grass.

These rugby cleats typically have a 6-stud configuration or molded studs. They ensure increased mobility and agility, being suitable for backs.

The studs are shorter because on firm surfaces you don’t need the rugby cleat to dig into the ground, but to allow you to move quickly and change direction with ease.

Do not use this type of cleats on a soft surface because they will clog up with mud. In addition, you increase your chances of getting injured.

Rugby Cleats for Artificial/ Turf Ground (AG)

The rugby cleats for artificial surfaces or turf cleats are almost similar to those for firm ground. They may be identified as FG/AG when purchasing.

The firm ground rugby cleats have that 6-stud configuration, but the rugby cleats for artificial surfaces feature mostly molded studs. These cleats are also lighter in weight compared to cleats designed for natural grass. As a player, you can make quick turns and other movements.

What if I usually play on both SF and FG?

Let’s clarify what to do if you are a rugby player who plays both on soft ground and firm ground.

The only option is to have a pair of rugby cleats for each type of surface.

The rugby cleats for soft ground have longer studs, while the rugby cleats for hard ground have shorter ones. Wearing the right rugby cleats for the specified surface increases your performance and minimizes the risk of injury.

However, if the budget does not allow it, then should you opt for soft-ground rugby cleats or firm-ground rugby cleats? You can take into account here the region in which you live. If most of the year is dry and you also play on 3G and 4G artificial grass pitches, then take some rugby cleats for firm and hard ground. They can deal quite well with muddier surfaces, not brilliantly, but they will help you finish the match.

On the other hand, rugby cleats for soft ground cannot be used on firm surfaces because the long studs can get stuck in the hard ground. They would greatly limit your range of motion on other types of terrain than soft ones.

Rugby Cleats for All Positions in Rugby Game

Each position in rugby needs rugby cleats to fulfill certain needs. With so many types available, I have put together a few rugby cleats that are designed for specific rugby positions.

Front Five

Loosehead Prop

These Adidas Kakari Elite are good rugby cleats for the loosehead prop position. They have a synthetic leather construction and a 6-stud configuration. The rugby players can use these Adidas rugby cleats on soft ground, as they are rugby cleats SG.
Adidas Rugby cleats for the loosehead prop position


The Gilbert Sidestep X15 rugby cleats come with a rubber outsole that features an 8-stud configuration. The studs are molded, while the design offers an ergonomic fit. They deliver incredible stability and traction. These rugby cleats for hookers can be worn on firm and artificial pitches.

Gilbert Sidestep X15 rugby cleats for hookers

Tighthead Prop & Second row

The Canterbury Phoenix Raze rugby cleats for tighthead props and second rows feature an 8-stud configuration with screw-in studs. The replaceable studs give these rugby cleats lots of versatility. You can use them on soft ground, but if you change the studs you can also play on firm ground. Inside, they have foam cushioning for maximum comfort.

Canterbury Phoenix Raze rugby cleats for tighthead props and second rows

Loose Forwards

Blindside Flanker

Adidas also offers great rugby cleats for the blindside flanker position. They are soft-ground rugby cleats that have a leather and textile construction. They are lightweight and comfortable, so the blindside flanker can speed up on wet surfaces.

Adidas rugby cleats for the blindside flanker position

Number 8

As rugby cleats for number 8 are these Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta Japan. Made with an ethylene vinyl acetate sole, these rugby cleats offer a tight fit and a lightweight feel. They are waterproof and very comfortable.
Rugby cleats for number 8 Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta Japan

Openside Flanker

These Puma Future 5.1 rugby cleats flaunt a synthetic construction and a rubber outsole with studs for soft ground. Other features of these rugby cleats for openside flanker position are the knit upper, the lace-up closure for a secure fit, and a sock collar for a better feel.
Puma Future 5.1 Rugby cleats for openside flanker position

The Halves

Scrum Half

These rugby cleats from Gilbert are called Kaizen X 3.1 Pace. Featuring a faux leather sole, these rugby cleats for the scrum half rugby position are ideal for soft surfaces. They have a 6-stud configuration with screw-in studs. They come with a key that allows you to tighten the studs whenever you need them.
Gilbert Kaizen X 3.1 rugby cleats for the scrum half rugby position

Fly Half

The Adidas Predator X rugby cleats are made using synthetic fabric and ethylene vinyl acetate for the outsole. They have a regulator cut and incorporate the Predator technology by Adidas. They feature a cleat wrench that you can use to tighten the stud for great performance and traction. These rugby cleats for the fly-half position are for soft surfaces only.
Adidas rugby cleats for the blindside flanker position


Inside & Outside Centre

The Puma King Top TT rugby cleats for inside and outside center positions have a synthetic sole and a leather exterior. The outsole has molded conical studs that can be used on soft surfaces. The K-leather exterior feels nice and soft and offers a lot of comforts. These rugby cleats provide stability and extra grip.
Puma King Top TT rugby cleats for inside and outside center positions

Three Quarters and Backs

Inside & Outside Centre

Gilbert Kuro Pro L1 6S are rugby cleats for three quarters and backs rugby positions. Their sole has an 8-stud configuration, which makes them perfect for soft ground. The sole offers a lot of responsiveness, while the microfiber upper gives a lightweight feel to the foot.
Gilbert Kuro Pro L1 6S are rugby cleats for three quarters and backs rugby positions

The price range for Rugby Cleats

The price of rugby cleats starts from $50 and can reach up to $300. This big gap is influenced by factors such as brand, material used, cut, and stud configuration. Overall, the market offers all kinds of options for each type of budget.


What is the difference between rugby cleats and soccer cleats ?

Although both sports involve good physical fitness, coordination, and strategy, they have many differences. Rugby involves more physical contact, while soccer involves more contact with the ball.

But what about the cleats? What are the differences between rugby cleats and soccer cleats? These look very similar on the outside. However, up close you can see differences in cut, studs length, weight, construction, and the width of the toe box.

Table 2. Difference between rugby cleats and soccer cleats
Rugby CleatsSoccer Cleats
  • They feature a higher cut for ankle protection and stability
  • The construction of rugby cleats is sturdy and thick to withstand the wear and tear of the sport.
  • They are heavier than soccer cleats
  • The studs of rugby cleats are longer, especially in the case of soft-ground rugby cleats.
  • The toe box of rugby cleats is reinforced and does not offer a good feeling on the ball, because they must offer more protection.
  • They usually have a lower cut that provides a maximum range of motion
  • The construction is thinner and gives the soccer player a better feel to hit the ball with precision
  • They are lightweight
  • Soccer cleats boast shorter studs that ensure stability and grip on firm and hard grounds
  • The soccer cleats are tighter than rugby cleats, offering a tight fit when kicking the soccer ball.

Overall, rugby cleats are made to offer the protection and stability needed in rugby, while soccer offers an ideal feel for hitting the ball.

Can you use soccer cleats for rugby?

According to rugby rules, you can wear soccer cleats when you play rugby if the studs comply with the rules. Rugby has certain stud rules that I covered in another article. If the soccer cleats fulfill those studs rules, then you’re allowed to play rugby with soccer cleats.

But should you really play rugby with soccer cleats? As you saw above, there are some differences between rugby cleats and soccer cleats.

If you are convinced that you want to sacrifice the superior protection of rugby cleats for the greater feeling of soccer cleats, then you can go for it. However, keep in mind the surface – if we are talking about the soft ground, you should stick with rugby cleats with longer studs, because the soccer cleats could lead to injuries.

How long do rugby cleats last?

Rugby cleats can last anywhere from one to three seasons.

The lasting of rugby cleats depends on various factors like the quality of the rugby cleats, the cleats’ fabric, how often you play, and how they are maintained.

Rugby cleats are made either of synthetic or leather. The leather rugby cleats last much longer than those made of synthetic ones.

It is also important to maintain the cleats properly. It is ideal for cleaning the rugby cleats once a week – this is if you play every week. You can clean them with a toothbrush or a cleaning brush. If necessary, you can also use a little cold water. Hot water is not recommended, especially for leather ones because this material can tighten.

Related video – Rugby Cleats:

The right pair of rugby cleats can make a big difference in the game. They help you run, cut, and be agile when changing direction. Not only do they ensure a good performance out there, but they also reduce the risk of getting injured or having foot and leg pain.

For all rugby enthusiasts, I also have for you a great list of rugby movies and documentaries that you can enjoy.

About the author: Danny Francesco

Danny is a professional when it comes to rugby.

He graduated from the Faculty of Physical Education and played rugby in Italy in amateur competitions. Keep reading...

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