Difference Between Rugby & Soccer Shoes

Written by chris medland
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Difference Between Rugby & Soccer Shoes
Picking the right footwear can be key to success on the field of play. (rugby image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

When playing competitive sports, it’s important to have the right equipment, and footwear is vital in both football -- or soccer -- and rugby. There are differences between the shoes -- or boots -- used for both sports, and even some differences between boots worn within each sport, of which you need to be aware to perform better during matches.

Football Boots

Football boots are very similar regardless of the position in which you play. The boots are designed to be lightweight to make it easier to control and manipulate the ball. While boots were traditionally made out of leather, newer boots are produced from types of polymer to keep them as light as possible. However, the lighter boot can increase the risk of injury.

Difference Between Rugby & Soccer Shoes
Football boots usually have short studs. (soccer shoe closeup image by Daniel Gillies from Fotolia.com)


The ankles are unprotected and the laces are more frequently covered by design or the tongue of the boot, which helps give a more consistent contact area with the ball. Studs are generally short, or in the form of ‘blades,’ which cut in to the surface of the ground, giving free movement but potentially less grip.

Football Positional Differences

The only difference is that defenders wear slightly heavier boots made with thicker leather, for a more durable boot as you are expected to regularly make tackles and clearances in these positions. Defenders are less likely to wear a lightweight polymer boot than wingers or attackers, but that is decided by your preference as a player.

Rugby Boots

If you are a rugby player, your position is the main deciding factor in the style of boot. Backs use lighter boots very similar to football boots to help with speed, but the biggest difference is with boots for the forwards. These traditionally are made of leather and have reinforced toe caps, but the biggest difference comes in the ankle.

Difference Between Rugby & Soccer Shoes
Backs and kickers prefer football-style boots. (rugby 52 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com)

Ankle Protection

Rugby boots for forwards have higher heel and ankle protection (ankle protection is defined as low -- like a football boot --, mid and high cut boots). The reason you require a different of boot as a forward is for rucking situations, where feet are trodden on frequently and players are at risk of having pressure on their ankles as players fall on them in the ruck.

Stud Differences

The studs also differ in length, allowing for more power by digging further in the turf when part of a scrum, maul or ruck. Football boots do not have such long studs as players are required to turn more quickly, and serious injury can be caused by studs getting caught in the turf. Rugby boots are more likely to have interchangeable studs, so that the longer ones used on soft ground can be replaced by a similar, shorter stud for hard pitches.

Converging Preferences

However, despite the potential injuries that can be sustained by not having protected ankles, rugby players are moving more towards a football-style boot as they prefer the lighter boot with less restriction to their ankle movement. You will develop your own preference, but must attempt to find the balance between comfort and protection against injury.

Difference Between Rugby & Soccer Shoes
Despite less protection, football boots are largely worn in rugby. (rugby image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

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