We have all the balls we need here at The Grounds, however, I know some of you prefer to bring your own ball. A top quality rugby ball will certainly help you enhance your handling and kicking skills on and off the field, and some of you enthusiasts has gone out and bought some real nice ones, so please feel free to use them during training. However, please ensure that they are properly inflated. We have air compressors in the equipment room that you are welcome to use – please ask the equipment manager on instructions on how to use them if you are unclear. Alternatively, you might have the regular sort of air compressor that you use for DIY projects at home, these can be used also, but please make sure you have an air gauge or tire inflator attached to it to ensure that the balls are inflated to match specifications.
For all rugby players, it is absolutely necessary to know the type of foot you have as well as the type of running style you exhibit. Importantly, figure out if you are flat-footed or your foot has a high arch as this determines the type of boot you should go for. Rugby boots need to fit over your feet well. For forwards, since you need all the lower body strength you can muster especially in scrums, you should go for the higher ankle boot styles. These also reduce the chances that you will get an injury there. For Kickers and Backs, you probably already know the best type of boot for you is the tight-fitting low-cut boot which gives you a better feel for the ball and lets you run like a bat out of hell! For everybody, it’s worth putting on the exact same socks that you are going to be wearing on the pitch when you go to get your boots, this way there will be no nasty surprises on the day. Note that there are different advantages to having natural leather or man-made materials in your boots. Natural leather takes the shape of your foot more easily and can be me more comfortable, but be aware that it can stretch out of shape in damp situations. Synthetic boots on the other hand don’t shift out of shape so easily and are usually lighter. They also cost less if that’s more important to you. Please make an effort to go for soft uppers, this will protect you against prospective injuries, in fact, you may also find that a boot that is a mix of natural leather and man-made materials is the best suited for you.
A final word about screw-in studs. If the pitch is grubby then it is worth having (and bothering to use!) the longer types of studs and but also keep to the shorter ones on dry days. Also when replacing or tightening studs, don’t forget to use a bit of oil or grease around the thread to prevent it from rusting. Finally, see to it that neither your boots nor studs have any sharp edges or ridges as we can’t afford any legal proceedings!
Rugby players have regularly used some kind of safety gear over the years. However since 1995, when the game became professional, stringent rules have since been introduced governing what types of gear you can and can not use during matches. In addition, the sport’s regulating authority, the IRB, has been tasked with having to authorise all types of head safety gear permitted in professional rugby matches. Head safety gear is normally made from light man-made components making them strong and able to withstand high impacts. They’re particularly important for front row forwards to avoid ear injuries during scrums. Importantly, as with all other gear, make sure that the head safety gear you use is comfortable – you don’t want to be distracted during games.
In addition to head protection, you need to have a gum guard – probably more important than the head gear as it not only shields your teeth and gums, but can also minimise injury around the jaw, and even reduce the likelihood of you suffering a concussion. As each of your mouths are different shapes and sizes, every gum guard must be moulded to fit perfectly around the upper part of your particular mouth. Ideally you need to drop in at your local dentist and get him or her to fit one that is right for your oral cavity. If you don’t or can’t afford to get a proper dental one, then the “boil in the bag” type will suffice but make sure that you have moulded it properly to your mouth using hot water. Heat the gum guard to boiling point in water and then when it just cool enough to place in your mouth without your teeth falling out, apply some suction to it around your teeth for roughly 3 minutes until it fits you perfectly.
Finally, upper body safety gear has been used in professional rugby for the past 2 decades, and is now highly recommended. The locations on your upper body that get the most injuries are the chest and shoulders as they suffer the full force of the impact in tackles, etc so it’s vital these locations are shielded. These days upper body safety gear is made from extremely strong and ‘light as a feather’ materials, with better quality gear costing a pretty penny. But again comfort is the number one priority if you are thinking of going down the upper body protection route.