If you are a newcomer to the sport, what equipment do you need, what is nice to have and what can you do without?
If you are playing for a club, school team or in any other competitive match, you won't really have much choice in terms of clothing. Where you will have to consider your clothing is in terms of training. Clothing designed for general outdoor fitness can be fine if you are doing a non-contact training session. However, unless you know that in advance, you'll need proper rugby shirts, shorts and socks. Rugby clothing has a strong and durable design suited to the physical nature of the sport, reducing the chances of clothes being ripped during contact. If it is cold, you can either utilise baselayers or jackets and trousers designed for Rugby for added warmth.
The right boots are essential, especially in terms of grip. If your feet give way in a scrum, ruck or maul, it can be particularly dangerous. Your choice of boots can also influence the amount of protection you have and a range of performance-related factors such as speed and the ability to change direction. Specialist Rugby boots are the best option - for more details, see our previous guide
From maintaining a winning smile to making eating an enjoyable task, it's important to look after your teeth and Rugby is a sport where there is always a risk of a stray boot, elbow or other blow catching you in the mouth. A gum shield is therefore an essential item. Any gum shield is better than nothing, but the best option is gum shields which are moulded to the shape of your teeth and gums. These gum shields will provide the closest fit, so will be the most comfortable and also offer the best protection.
Whilst they offer plenty of benefits, I wouldn't recommend either scrum caps or shoulder pads for a complete beginner. Protective clothing can create a sense of invulnerability which can be dangerous in such a physical sport. Remember that if a tackle is made with perfect technique, it does not hurt. Therefore I would recommend starting without this equipment and concentrating on improving your technique. Once you have mastered the basic techniques of going into contact you can choose a scrum cap and/or shoulder pads if you feel you'd like some extra cushioning, but remember this is not a licence to throw your technique away!
A decent sports bags with plenty of compartments, particularly a separate one for your boots, it a must to help you keep your kit tidy and your other clothes clean. If you are wearing screw-in studs, a stud key and a few extra studs are always great to have and keep in your bag. And if you are a kicker, be sure to take that kicking tee with you too!
By following the advice above, you will be well kitted out to enjoy Rugby in comfort and able to enjoy safely everything the sport has to offer.