The Mullet Stud. It’s New, It’s Edgy, And it’s Legal?
“Holy fuck”, I said. “That can’t be legal”.
Hold on, McGeady. Start again. Use your words.
There is a new type of rugby stud on the market. Photo and video of the strange design crossed the desk at McGeady Towers. My eyebrows rose sharply as the strange design of the “Smart Power Profiler” stud became more and more clear.
The easiest way to describe the thing? The Mullet Stud: sensible at the front, edgy at the back.
For your convenience, here’s a link to the manufacturer’s website: Smart Power. A working knowledge of the French language is recommended, but you’ll get the gist.
And a video.
The manufacturer’s website links out to ADN Rugby, where the studs can be purchased online: http://www.adnrugby.com/crampon-18-smart-power-rondelle-cle-c2x22189176.
A journalist remains unflappably calm at all times
Yes, you can buy them. “Fucking fucking fuck”, I typed to a close rugby contact when I saw that these things are actually on sale. Being on sale implied that they were beyond concept and very much a real thing. A real thing coming to a pitch near you.
My eyebrows rose still further upon noticing wording on the company’s website stating that the Smart Power Profiler is licensed by World Rugby and had passed World Rugby’s tests.
Testing Testing A, B
Licensed by World Rugby, eh? It’s passed their tests? I asked Smart Power if this was so.
Yes indeed, they said.
World Rugby confirmed their legality last week, said Smart Power, and a note will be issued from World Rugby’s officiating department about them.
Over to World Rugby, who said while studs don’t actually get licensed by them the stud has passed their tests.
“They must conform to the provisions outlined in Regulation 12 (see the World Rugby Handbookiii). In this case, these studs have been independently tested and were found to conform with Reg 12.”
That is to say, these studs are indeed rugby-legal.
Over a few hours I asked around. People in the game. Have you seen these new studs? What do you think?
A current professional player told me that he’d seen them; that the manufacturer wanted him to try them out. He knew they had been in the process of being approved and thought the studs might work well in providing extra grip.
“That’s the first I’ve seen of them and hopefully the last. They look very dangerous.” said another professional player after I showed him a photo. Of course I then had the dubious pleasure of informing him that they have been deemed legal.
“I’ve enough to worry about without being responsible for someone getting a mid game dissection”, said a member of a professional side’s backroom team.
To peer back to my expletive-filled intro, how exactly are these legal? The stud seemed at adds with the descriptions outlined in Regulation 12 of what a stud needs to conform to.
This Regulation contains a useful diagram.
In comparison, a diagram of the Smart Power Profiler.
These look… different.
When asked for enlightenment, World Rugby directed our attention to specific wording in Regulation 12:
“The shape and dimensions of other stud/cleat designs should be such that they present a no greater risk of injury to another player than the stud/cleat shown in figure 1. Tests A and B iv can be used to assess comparative performance.”
Translated: if the studs in question do not match the specifications in that diagram, the glancing/raking and stamping tests can be used “to show they don’t perform worse in terms of safety than studs that do match the diagram”.
So… they have passed the tests.
The manufacturer claims the studs deliver an extra 5%-8% benefit in pushing. The studs can be inserted in various orientations (i.e. they can be set to face different directions using some little washer gizmo) depending on whether that player’s goal is pushing, speed or stability. They say they used 3D printing to speed up prototyping during a two year development, testing the studs against artificial skin.
Smart Power told me that testing of the new stud has involved the Clermont and Brive clubs from the Top 14, who have used the new studs in training. They also said that the French and Japanese national sides are currently testing them out with more sides to follow.
The opinion bit.
Stamping and rucking might well be outlawed in modern rugby, but sometimes bad things happen. Bad things happening less often due to law changes does not mean that they never happen. These things have edges; one might not unreasonably call them protrusions. The risk here seems unnecessary, especially after some poor fecker wears them for a season or so of running back and forth to training and matches over concrete or tarmac.
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.
But if a communication is indeed to be issued from World Rugby’s referee department about these little beauties, it might go thusly:
Dear valued Referee, while these studs might upon first glance look like the sort of thing that might once have triggered spasms of liability panic when performing the pre-match stud check, they are now, as of February 2017, completely legal.
Rugby-legal, that is. Whatever that really means.
Fuck it. I’m off to play fireball.