The Specifics of Rugby Studs
The original boots worn for rugby were either hobnail boots or walking boots and most experts see these as the forerunner to the modern-day studs. As you can imagine these protrusions could cause quite serious damage and so the first studs were brought in to satisfy law changes which considered this, this happened in 1889, though it was 1910 when the specification became tighter. The early studs were specified as being no less than 3/4 inch in diameter and no longer than half the diameter, they were typically leather or tight-packed felt and fixed to the sole of the boot with 4 nails. The next change occurred in 1926 when studs had to be leather, circular and fixed by at least 3 nails. Rubber was included in 1948, Aluminium in 1953 and approved plastics in 1954.
The studs in use today will normally be either fixed to the boot, which is not ideal as this means when the studs wear and the entire boot must be replaced, or screwed-in. Studs can be made from aluminium or hard plastic. The design and materials must conform to the IRB regulation 12 under law 4.3. This specifies that the stud can be no more than 21mm long.
Generally, there are two types of stud pattern worn: the 8 studs or the 6 studs. The 8 stud is most often worn by the tight forwards (props, hooker and locks) to provide them with extra grip for scrummaging and mauling. The 6 studs are worn by backs as it allows for more agility and quick movement around the field. Plastic "blade" studs, common in soccer, are now an increasingly frequent choice among backs.
Referee's Role and Tolerance to Bladed Studs and Other Moulded Studs
Players should be aware that referees must check all players' studs before a game to ensure that they all meet the standards. Studs that are worn must be replaced before a player can join the game. This is to eliminate the potential for a stud causing a wound.
There are no more restrictions about the type of studs and that resulted in the entry of blades in modern rugby boots. However, given that rugby is a very physical contact sport, the only restrictions set are still about safety. Studs are expected to be fresh and not worn out, otherwise, the studs need to be replaced or the entire boot cannot be used if the studs are not screw-in types. Another restriction is that the blades may not be allowed if deemed by the referee to have sharp edges or is abrasive to others.
FG/AG/SG and AntiClog
Blade and chevron studs are of necessity when playing with firmer grounds during warmer conditions. Firm grounds represent a delicate balance between wet muddy nature of Soft Grounds and the hardness of artificial surfaces. FG soleplates therefore have relatively long studs and are medium-numbered just to get enough penetration while still utilizing the cushioning provided by a firmer ground.
AG soleplates feature a greater number of short moulded studs to distribute stud pressure. Usually, the studs are also conical in shape to make it easier to land on the hard artificial ground. The rise in number of artificial grounds is caused by increasing demand for playing areas, a demand that may not be fully satisfied given the limitation of natural surfaces today.
The standard 8-stud and 6-stud patterns are best used for the wet and muddy soft grounds. The obvious challenge with SG soleplates are the accumulation of moist and muddy residues that can cause faster wearing. It is for this reason that Nike has introduced AntiClog technology to their SG soleplates. With Anticlog technology, the studs are made to be mud and water resistant with a coating that produces a slippery yet waxy sensation. The said technology makes it easier then to maintain and clean a Nike boot with an SG stud pattern.