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Rugby buying guide

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Rugby Gear Guide - An Introduction

The game of Rugby is the most physically intense and demanding of all team sports, supplying fast and furious action for players and sports fans watching from the stands and at home. Which ever way you prefer to enjoy the game, a Rugby Shirt in your team’s colours shows your support for this fast growing sport, which is played in countries all around the world and fast gaining American fans, following its official adoption as a professional sport by the U.S. in 2010.

In order to safely join in the fun on the field, players wear a specially designed Rugby Kit, complete with a Rugby Jersey made from special fabric that shrugs off mud and moisture and a tough pair of Rugby Shorts on top of a protective layer of Rugby Body Armour. Add a Scrum Cap and the distinctively shaped Rugby Ball and you are all set to play.

Increased interest in all aspects of Rugby football has boosted the market for collectable memorabilia such as special match jerseys from international and domestic games, like match worn shirts and other collector's items.

Rugby Union is a full contact team sport, demanding total fitness and dedication from its players and its rise as a popular form of entertainment comes partly from the recent demand for increased coverage of the more extreme forms of sports like mixed martial arts and partly due to TV programs such as “The X Factor,” which celebrates sheer physical strength.

If you play, go to cheer on your favourite team, collect rugby memorabilia or just enjoy the comfort and durability of Rugby Shirts as casual wear, we have a wide selection of specially chosen Rugby gear to suit all ages and sizes of rugby fans.

Tips to consider before buying Rugby Gear

  • To measure anyone for a rugby shirt, ask them to stand with their arms by their sides and take the measurement around the chest, at the widest part, ensuring the tape is level and parallel to the floor.
  • The chest measurement in inches is the most important one for ordering a shirt. Unless the other measurements are disproportional, it will be a good fit for length and throughout the arms.
  • Look for rugby shirts of the traditional cotton variety which come with rubber buttons that do not pop off when stressed, but slide out of their button holes.
  • Choose a synthetic or cotton/polyester blend for the warmer months.
  • Traditional 100% cotton rugby shirts are best for colder months.
  • If children need extra tough play wear, investment in a couple of rugby shirts should solve the issue of clothes ruined by mud and torn in places, since they are designed to withstand this degree of punishment.
  • The logos and bright colours of rugby shirts appeal to children of all ages, and the 100% cotton styles are especially fun and snug as sleep wear.
  • If you are looking for a special gift for a rugby fan, the collectable match worn shirts are a great idea, especially if you choose one from his or her favourite team.
  • A matching rugby shirt and rain jacket make a good present for sports fans of all ages. See our Best Buys Section for an economical example.
  • Styles with an,”athletic collar” offer less fabric for the opposing team to grasp.
  • Rugby Shirts paired with jeans a are popular combination of casual wear for both men and women. The strong, soft fabric and roomy design perfectly suits activities like walking, shopping and relaxing at home.

Types of Rugby Gear

The basic gear for playing rugby is a shirt, Rugby Shorts and a pair of Boots, but some players will also need at least a set of Rugby Shoulder Pads, perhaps even some Rugby Body Armour, a compression layer (see our Jargon Buster Section) and a Scrum Cap.

The traditional Rugby Jersey or shirt is a classic shape with square shoulders, a collar and long sleeves, made from strong, thick cotton and cut generously for ease of movement. This style has been replaced for some top teams who wear collarless shirts in new high tech polyester fabrics which wick away moisture more effectively and by their slippery feel, reduce the possibility of a player being successfully tackled on the field. This new style is very form fitting and shows off well defined muscles.

The types of Rugby Shorts needed are made from toughened synthetic fabrics that are constructed with extra seams for strength. Several pairs are recommended, as even the best quality kits get damaged in play, as the England team found out in before the 2003 World Cup.

Rugby Boots take slightly smaller studs than football boots and are designed specially for the game. These are inspected by the referee before each match to ensure compliance with the rules.

Rugby Body Armour is a must for serious player in even amateur leagues. The extra protection offered limits the possibility of serious injuries. Some types double as a compression layer, which squeezes more blood into the muscles for faster reactions and recovery from fatigue. Scrum Caps can be used for preventing cauliflower ears and reducing the impact of blows from stray feet in a scrum.

The use of Rugby Shoulder Pads are optional but give added protection, and good quality Rain Jackets is essential to prevent chills from periods of inactivity during training or before a match.

Of course the Rugby Ball comes next and its distinctive oval shape needs checking for pressure at regular intervals, so adding an air pump to your shopping list is a smart move.

Newcomers to the game will appreciate some general guidelines on shirt fabric types. 100% cotton shirts offer a nice amount of warmth in the colder months, wear well, but may become rather over heating for playing on bright sunny days.

A 50/50 blend of Polyester and cotton is a better way to stay warm on cold days and cool on hot ones. The fabric retains less dampness than 100% cotton, speeds the evaporation of moisture and keeps its shape well.

Sublimated fabric is 100% polyester, named for the printing process which provides a long-lasting logo bonded into the fabric. This type of jersey is very durable, great at managing moisture and retains its shape and good looks for a long time.

Teams and their Kit Colours

The England team are one of the most popular in the world; their England Rugby Shirts are worn by fans from countries as far away as Tonga and Madagascar, who both have active leagues. England Rugby Fleece tops can be found in sizes from infant to adult, a popular item with fans and their families. The traditional England white kit has seen some changes since the first International with Scotland in 1871. One of the game shirts from this historic match can be seen at the RFU museum at their home base, Twickenham Stadium, an impressive rugby venue which seats 82,000 and is the largest in the world.

With such a strong England side, it could be easy to overlook the presence of others such as the British Lions who wear a kit in white, red, blue and green which represents the colours of the four countries, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, whose players make up their team.

England also has a growing and impressive number of women rugby players, with figures up 80% in recent years, according to the Rugby Football League. The Ladies England Rugby Shirt in white with red trim is proudly worn by many of its over 40,000 players.

Wales, the only country in the U.K. where rugby has more fans than football, proudly wear a bright red Wales Rugby kit. Their distinctive colour scheme was briefly interrupted by a Rugby Shirt in yellow, for away matches where their colours matched opponent’s kits, but the classic Wales Rugby Shirt remains the same, featuring the Prince of Wales feather design as their logo.

The main Ireland Shirt is green with a white trim, while its alternative kit is the reverse, as seen at away matches. Ireland Rugby Shirts feature the famous shamrock logo and come in long and short sleeved versions. The proud Irish rugby team is to be congratulated on their new Aviva stadium, a masterpiece of modern design, with seats for over 50,000 fans, who dress in their Ireland Rugby League Shirts and provide a sea of green at every match, fuelled by their love for the club, and a little Guinness, of course.

The Scottish Rugby Union Shirt is dark blue with a thistle as its badge. The team plays at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, when at home and although they are one of the smaller countries with fewer players to choose from, they are a fearsome side to play against, inspiring devotion in their fans who wear the Scotland Rugby Top with pride.

Rugby Gear Best Buys

For Springbok Supporters, the classic South Africa Rugby Shirt in dark green, featuring a ¾ sleeve and an asymmetric neckline is a must buy. The slimmer fit seen on the team this year looks good and performs as well on the stands as in the field. It keeps its shape and shade so well due to an advanced polyester blend of material, which allows the body to breathe and enhances performance by the use of special power Lycra inserts under the arms. As a player’s shirt or as smart street wear, it offers the best of both worlds at a very reasonable price.

Ladies who love the look, but do not wish to claim any team as their own can enjoy the style in a 100% cotton jersey comfortable vintage Rugby Top from Splendid. Narrow bands in two shades of grey decorate the perfect Rugby Top for a cool day. The quality soft supima fabric and three quarter sleeves, plus slightly longer than usual length make it a great deal and good choice for sleep wear, too.

Our third choice features two items of sports clothing which make up a good set for uncertain weather, something we all get caught in, from time to time. The British and Irish Lions Polo short sleeved shirt and matching Windbreaker Jacket come in navy with a white trim. The two articles offer versatility and comfort in any season and situation, at well under £50.for both. They’re our top pick to add a sporty look to any wardrobe.

A professional sized rugby ball from Ethletic comes with an added bonus. It was hand crafted by workers participating in the fair trade project, meaning workers received a decent wage for their work. The FairTrade Rugby Ball is sewn from rubber which features an outside grain. This material comes from the rubber plantations of Sri Lanka and is sourced from renewable resources in South India. At under £20, the price for buying an item that was produced in this way is a bargain.

Jargon Explained

Protective GearThis ranges from shin guards similar to those worn by soccer players to a full set of Rugby Body Armour with or without shoulder pads. As the game is intensely physical, injuries are frequent and can be off set by wearing extra protection.
Scrum CapA Scrum Cap is worn to reduce ear injury and prevent more serious head injuries. These are loved and hated by players who dislike the style which closes under the chin, rather like a bonnet.
Match Worn ShirtA rugby shirt from a famous match often signed with the player’s name and may come with extra memorabilia, if bought from a collector.
Athletic CollarA newer style, supposedly harder to grasp in tackles.
Sublimated FabricA blended, usually polyester based material for rugby shirts which offers the best combination of wear, lightness, colour fastness and cooling features.
100% CottonThe traditional material for rugby shirts. It is strong, soft, warm and long wearing for a classic look.
Base LayerThe undershirts worn for extra warm. These are typically made from high tech synthetic fabrics with superior qualities for wicking away moisture from the body.
Base Layer CompressionAn undershirt which compresses the muscles, forcing extra blood into them, for endurance and faster healing of minor injuries.
Rugby MemorabiliaAny item from matches, including shirts, caps, programs, flags, etc, which are more valuable if signed by one or more players. This market has opened up as the sport becomes more popular worldwide, with Japanese investors and American collectors taking an interest in premium items from European and North American teams. 

Buying Guide to Rugby
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