They initially made only one change which was that there were bars nailed across the soles so that they could keep some form of grip on the grass and mud when running. The first actual rule concerning the rugby boot was put into place in 1845. This rule read, “No player may wear projecting nails or iron plates on the heels or soles of his shoes or boots.” This was because men would often kick each other in the shins in order to gain advantage over the other players. Of course this rule was not very strictly adhered to and some would take their boots to cobblers to have the front of them sharpened slightly.
It was not till the end of the 19th century that official rugby boots were manufactured and sold to the public. These boots were very similar in shape, style, and sturdiness to the walking boots usually worn by the players however there were leather studs placed on the soles of the shoes for better grip. After this improvement, there were few more until the 1960s, up until this point the only thing about the rugby boot that had altered was the quality of the leather, which had improved.
After this, larger sporting goods companies began to produce boots which featured a set of screw-in metal studs.
In the 1970s manufacturers began to introduce synthetic materials for their rugger boots in order to lower the cost of the product and make mass production a little easier on the company. The low ankle boot was originally introduced to football players by the South Americans but in certain rugby positions players found the lighter footwear far easier to run in. They then spread throughout rugby teams as players in other positions found that this style of boot was far better for kicking the ball with any level of accuracy.
And so the heavy leather boots slowly disappeared and were replaced by these sleek and aerodynamic designs which were all around more appropriate for the game. Now these boots are moulded specifically for the game and the ease of the players rather than simply as something to play in. Different styles of boot exist for the preferences of different playing styles or positions and a player can choose the best boot for them.
Boots are even created specifically for different playing positions on the team, some with better ankle support to prevent injury when running forwards quickly and low to the ground, some that are more streamlined for kicking purposes also allowing greater speed for running.
The rugby boot has come a long way from the original leather working boot and is now a piece of precision sports equipment that comes in so many different shapes and colours it must be difficult to find the perfect boot for each individual player. However it is always better to have plenty of helpful choices rather than one slightly inappropriate option.
Some of today’s leading sports brands are putting their names to Rugby Boots from Adidas to Under Armour, you just need to remember to choose the boots that are right for you.
This blog post was prepared as part of a series which focusses on the various Rugby Boots that are on the market today.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia, rugbystuff.com