The Single Front Stud Is Back

UPDATE 24/07/2015: The single stud at the toe of the boot is now fully legal in rugby union.

Here’s a link to a piece with more up to date information: Jamie Cudmore and the single stud boot

That link will prove useful to the many people who find themselves landing on this page from search engines, reddit, etc.

The rest of the below post from 2013 remains unchanged.

(Updates from 04/02/2013 and 05/02/2013 included at bottom)

Last September I wrote in the Irish Times about the International Rugby Board allowing Adidas to trial a rugby boot with a single front stud, a feature that has been banned in rugby for over thirty years for safety reasons.

On Friday February 1st the new boot, named the Adidas FF80, was launched in time for the opening weekend of the 2013 Six Nations championship.

Adidas confirmed that Ireland back rows Sean O’Brien and  [see updates at end of post] Peter O’Mahony will both definitely be wearing the boot in their match against Wales with several other high profile forwards from other nations named but not yet confirmed at the time of writing also wearing the new boot during the championship.


Adidas, when researching ways to provide more grip for loose forwards, developed a sole configuration with five studs at the forefoot. This was, of course, illegal under the laws and regulations of rugby union.

In June 2011 Adidas approached the IRB regarding the investigation of alternate sole configurations to improve forwards’ grip on the turf, with a view to producing a new kind of rugby boot.

The IRB, subsequent to Adidas’ approach, requested that the sportswear company produce a report that would examine the potential benefits of the new 5×2 configuration, among others, as well as taking into account player safety. Adidas did so and, having read the report, the IRB approved a two year trial for that single design from Adidas.

The final boot has remained faithful to the original configuration diagram specified on the IRB’s law amendment trials website:

During the two year trial, the IRB’s Regulation 12 (which governs the clothing and protective equipment approved for use in the game) still states the following:

“There shall not be a single stud at the toe of the boot.”


“The worst-case scenario in any event will be when a single
stud/cleat, normally one toward the edge of the sole, makes contact

The two statements above will remain in place until the law amendment trial, such as it is, is approved and passed.

Adidas say that players who have tested the boot say “it poses no greater safety risk than rugby boots with other stud configurations”. Leinster team doctor Arthur Tanner, when interviewed for the Irish Times article, said “the isolated stud has much greater potential for an admittedly rare injury”, adding “the chances of them [occurring] increase with the introduction of an unpaired stud”.

When asked last September both the IRB and Adidas refused to divulge any testing data relating to the safety of the trial configuration. Now that the boot is launched, it is hoped that the safety data will finally be shared.


Update 04/02/2013:  Sean O’Brien didn’t wear the FF80 in the end, unless it comes in white. But Donnacha Ryan did. And Sam Warburton. And Sergio Parisse.



Update 05/02/2013:  Sean O’Brien sent out the below tweet last night, showing off his just-arrived shiny new boots. Looks like the Tullow post might have been a tad tardy last week.


9 Responses to “The Single Front Stud Is Back”
  1. Dave Ballesty says:

    Hi Andy, do you have an update on the FF80 regarding its legality?

    • Andy McGeady says:

      Hi Dave. As far as I’m aware the FF80 is still the only such boot, i.e. with the single front stud, that is currently legal. I’ll be doing a follow up piece on this at some point.

  2. Mikey says:

    Hi can u tell me what the stud Rules are can i get new nike boots

  3. Brian says:

    And can you tell me about the legality of having mixed material stud such as plastic and metal that is supplied on the FF80?

    • Andy McGeady says:

      Hi Brian – based on my reading of Regulation 12 the mixed material isn’t illegal. The diameter of the tip however? Almost certainly on the narrow side, although nowhere near the level of transgression of those that come as standard on the current Nike soft ground boots.

  4. Thom walker says:

    Hi, could you tell me if the nfl style cleats are legal, at the moment

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] we hadn’t seen the boots yet, only a drawing. The FF80 was launched the following spring and various Six Nations stars were seen in it immediately. I wrote about that […]

  2. […] Having said that, I again stress that they are legal in rugby union. We are told they have been independently tested. World Rugby has been satisfied of this, and the company says this has been a two year development journey. I am no physicist, no scientist, no biomechanics expert, no materials guru. I am mere journalist, sat here scratching the noggin. Just like I was when the toe stud was brought back. […]

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