What’s The Difference Between Rugby Boots & Soccer Boots?

What’s The Difference Between Rugby Boots & Soccer Boots?

Starting rugby this season and wondering if you can wear your soccer boots on the field? While soccer and rugby shoes definitely have some similarities in the way they look, on the field they are used very differently. 


Soccer has us manipulating and directing the ball with our feet, while rugby sees the occasional hit with some firm driving into the ground in scrums. These differences – and many others – mean that the boots for each sport have specific features that make them the best shoe for the job! Today, the Sole Motion team are chatting about these features and what you should keep in mind when considering shoe swapping between these sports.



Soccer boots tend to be lighter than rugby boots. This is to help soccer players remain fast and accurate in their movements with the ball – without their shoes weighing them down or tiring them out. This means wearing rugby boots during soccer could put you at a disadvantage.



Soccer boots tend to be narrower than rugby boots, fitting to the feet extremely closely. This is to help you with more delicate footwork, given how often you’re kicking the ball. It also allows the boots to be as light as possible. In rugby, the wider boot allows for more powerful kicks.



While historically the number of studs generally tends to be higher in soccer than rugby, these days your boots give you full control over the stud number, stud type and stud formation in both sports. In fact, studies have been done that look at player performance with regards to stud length and stud geometry. Ultimately, your decision will come down to the terrain you’re playing on (soft ground, firm ground, hard ground, artificial/turf) and your position on the field. Remember to comply with the rules of your sport – like how soccer boots can have wedge cleats, which you can’t have in rugby.



While rugby puts you at risk of constant tackles, in soccer it is the shins that take the most force. As the shins are protected by your shin pads and socks, the boots themselves have less protection and generally lower tops. In rugby, shoes tend to have higher tops and firmer and slightly thicker materials with added padding.

Ankle support

Similarly, with tackles around every corner, rugby boots tend to have more ankle support than soccer boots – but this can vary depending on how high the tops on your particular boots are. Generally, boots come in high-cut, mid-cut and low-cut options, which you can choose based on your position on the field. High-cut and mid-cut styles are generally used by forwards as they have more support, while low-cut styles are typically suited to those in the backs.



Rugby boots tend to incorporate a heel raise for more power during a scrum, ruck or maul. Soccer boots tend to have either no heel, or a very little heel, as they’re often raising the forefoot to kick or manipulate the ball and want to do this as effectively as possible.


So, can you mix and match?

We recommend not mixing and matching the two – and for a very good reason: the risk of injury. Forwards in rugby need good ankle support, foot protection and stud length – which soccer boots tend to lack. This can put you at risk of ankle sprains, damage to your feet from being stepped on in a scrum or tackle. Injury concerns aside, they are also likely to be of little help when you’re propped against your opposition in a scrum on a muddy field.


If we look at it the other way around, trying to finely manoeuvre the ball with wider, heavier rugby boots can quickly grow tiresome and burdensome on your feet, affecting your performance, and putting you at risk of overuse injury. 


And If Pain Or Injury Does Develop?

Then our experienced podiatry team at Sole Motion are here to help. We’re proud to work with sports teams in Melbourne to help keep their players’ foot health in top shape. You don’t need a referral to see us – book your appointment online here or call us on 1300 FX FEET


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