7 Best Rugby Shoulder Pads & Buyers Guide 2019
You have probably taken enough batterings on the rugby field to last you a lifetime
So it’s time to look at the Best Rugby Shoulder Pads and get yourself some protection to go under your rugby jersey if you haven’t got one already
But which one should you get?
Do you get some that just protect the shoulders or the whole of the upper body?
One thing that I do know is that whatever you are looking for you will find it right here in this list that I have put together
Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each one so you won’t have to search all over the internet for the right ones for your style of play
Click Below to See The Best
Rugby Shoulder Pads
What is Body Armour For?
Well let me tell you
But what I would like to talk about is body armour used in sports
There are some sports that are a little bit rough so you might need a little more body protection than if you play something like chess
Yes, chess is a sport, look it up…
Body armour, base layers or skins that they are sometimes called are mainly made out of spandex or synthetic material and can have many benefits if you are wearing them playing any contact sport…
Like Rugby for instance
Benefits of Wearing Rugby Body Armour
- Helps relieve pain from muscle stiffness
- They keep you warm in cold conditions and keep you cool in warm conditions (like a thermos flask)
- Reduces skin infection
- Draws away your sweat keeping you feeling fresh
- Gives you extra protection in certain upper body area’s
This one is for all the sportsmen or sportswomen carrying a little extra flubber
- Keeps your extra fat from spilling out of your clothes
What Else Can You Wear to Play Rugby?
There is another type of base layer that many sports people opt for and that’s compression skins
These have really great health benefits and can improve your fitness believe it or not and they can come in a t-shirt, long sleeve or vest form
Here are some of the benefits of wearing them
- Reduces swelling and inflammation
- Helps aid your blood flow
- Reduces the build-up of lactic acid
- Holds your muscles in place making you feel more comfortable
- Improves your athletic abilities
Some people don’t think that any of the things I have mentioned above actually work.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Send Your answers in on a postcard…
Or you could just comment your answer below
Plain Skins/Base Layers
Mainly worn in the colder weather by young children that play the sport, the game is hard enough without having to battle the cold
So I strongly suggest that if your child is going to play rugby or is currently playing rugby but hasn’t yet played in the freezing weather…GET SOME!!
Padded Body Armour
They usually only have padding covering the shoulders and collarbone made of soft thin material and should be no thicker than 1cm thick according to the rules.
If you are not sure, check the label to see if it’s IRB approved
You can also get body armour with padding for the arms, chest, ribs, and back but women can get them with extra chest padding for obvious reasons.
If you have read any of my other posts you will know that I have been a rugby coach for a few years now so I have seen first hand the benefits of wearing padded body armour
Not only does it give you that extra padded protection but it does give you a certain confidence that you might not have had before
Don’t ever think you’re invincible
I’m not saying they will protect you from injuries but they will cushion the impact going into a tackle as the shoulder should be the first point of contact providing the tackle is correctly performed.
THIS IS HOW TO PERFORM A RUGBY TACKLE CORRECTLY
They Will Not Stop You Getting Injured
But they will reduce the risk of injuries by a small amount
Neck and head injuries are a common problem playing rugby and that’s where scrum caps are useful for reducing the head injuries
So if you combine a scrum cap with some body protection you will be a bit safer on the rugby field next time you play
Let’s take a look at some padded body armour that I would recommend
The Purpose of Rugby Shoulder Pads
I think it is pretty obvious why some rugby players like to wear shoulder pads during a game as opposed to not wearing any at all
Rugby is one of, if not, the toughest team sport that you could play these days
And I believe as a rugby coach myself that you should always wear as much of the protective gear that you are “Allowed to Wear”
I have seen my fair share of injuries in my time to know that the ultimate purpose of shoulder pads for rugby is to protect the one and only body that you have playing the sport that you love
I mean, why would you want to leave your body more vulnerable than it is already?
Do Shoulder Pads Help In Rugby?
Of course, shoulder pads help in rugby for the younger players
But there are some people out there that think that body protection for children playing rugby is making our future stars a bit on the soft side
What are your thoughts about what he says?
Do you agree with him?
Should rugby players just wear compression shirts instead?
Shoulder Pads or Just a Compression Shirt?
Compression Shirts are not great for padding or protection during a rugby game but are perfect for keeping your body warm in cold weather
Sometimes too warm
You will want to wear them during your pregame exercises so that your muscles will warm up quicker and be ready for the game at hand
I would advise that you wear them after a game as well for quicker muscle recovery after the beating they took during the game
Shoulder Pads will protect those vulnerable areas that take the most contact during a rugby game and some are even made with a compression material so you can have the best of both worlds
But don’t think they will make you invincible and a better rugby player, they will give you more confidence going into tackles and taking them
At the end of the day, it is just a few millimeters of foam and not steel.
Rugby Tackle Can Always Go Wrong
Just Take A Look At This Quick Video Of The Top Rugby Tackles Gone Wrong
You are less likely to get injured with shoulder pads or a bodyguard as the pads will absorb the impact and spread it out rather than taking the hit in just one spot
But like I said, they will not stop you getting injured altogether
Wouldn’t you rather have that padding there when some big 18 stone man mountain comes hurtling towards you and you have to dip your shoulder and wrap your arms around those moving legs to try to Tackle Him?
I know I would…
How to Choose The Best Rugby Shoulder Pads for a Better Performance
As you are probably aware that all the padding used in rugby is made from a soft foam
You cannot wear any hard protective clothing like they do in American Football where they use those big hard helmets and massive plastic shoulder pads and use them more as weapons rather than protection
Here are 5 things to take into consideration before purchasing shoulder pads
- Coverage And Thickness of Padding: All the padding is usually about the same thickness whichever brand you decide to go for which should not be more than 10mm thick and just cover the shoulder muscles, collarbone, and part of the top of your back. Some have various different areas of padding which are also legal providing they don’t exceed the thickness of 10mm.
- Fitting And Style: Rugby pad tops should be tight-fitting so you can wear them under your Rugby Shirt but not too tight that you can barely move and your circulation in your upper body is nearly cutting off. As far as the style goes then you can either get a short sleeve rugby shoulder padded top or a long sleeve one. Most players prefer the short sleeve ones as they are less restrictive but the long sleeves will keep you warmer in those freezing cold games.
- Padded Areas: It’s a given that they will come with padded protection for your shoulder area but a lot of them will have other areas of your upper body protected, such as Sternum, Abdominal, Ribs, Biceps, and Lower Back/Spine. You will need to think about your style of play to determine which areas of your upper body you will want to be protected.
- Materials: Most protective clothing for rugby is made of a very durable Lycra which can take a bit of a battering before you have to get a new one. You can get some that are made from an anti-odour and anti-moisture fabric which can come in very handy to reduce the smell of your sweaty armpits after a game of rugby. The padded areas should be smooth and not stick out too much and they will be made from a standard tested soft foam.
- Prices: Here comes the bit where I have had many arguments with fellow rugby players that I know. Some say that they should be given out from the team that you play for as part of your kit, but others (including myself) say that you should buy your own as not all rugby players like to wear them. What do you think? You can get some at real low prices starting from around $20 but they can also go up to a massive $150 but in this case, you really do get what you pay for in terms of quality. Don’t just buy a cheapy one I say, always choose a quality made shoulder pad otherwise you will end up paying more in the long run from having to keep buying new ones when the cheap one you bought first rips and breaks.
IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE FULL OFFICIAL RULES AND REGULATIONS OF RUGBY SAFETY CLOTHING THEN YOU CAN CLICK HERE AND DOWNLOAD THE RULES FOR FREE
The Best Rugby Shoulder Pads For Women
Women rugby players will obviously have a different rule about the type of style of upper body protection for a couple of reasons which I won’t go into right now
As well as the padded areas that are on a standard body armour/shoulder pads,
A woman’s protective clothing also has a soft, thin chest pad to protect the couple of reasons I mentioned earlier
Providing that it still covers the collar bone and shoulder as is stated in the Official Rugby Safety Clothing Rules written in the world rugby union laws.
There are different brands with all types of pad shapes, placements, and cuts which will make you feel comfortable and secure whilst playing a very tough game
The most brutal and aggressive game of rugby I have seen was a women’s rugby game,
They really put the men to shame
A Final Word Before Seeing The Shoulder Pads
Just before I show you the Best Shoulder Pads that you will want to wear during a rugby game
I want to just say that even with all the protective clothing that you wear like Scrum Caps and Gum Shields etc,
You should always be safe and don’t ever think that you will never get injured because you are wearing them
Always listen to your rugby coach about the correct way to tackle, be tackled, and just everything about rugby safety that they teach you
But you will certainly reduce the risk of injuries if you do
Top 7 Shoulder Pads For Rugby
7. Kooga IPS Pro V Protective Top
It has 5 protective pads surrounding the body which does really protect your body a little but don’t let it control how hard you go in for those tackles
I have used this Kooga body armour a few times and it does what it says on the tin but you really do have to think about your whole body when you go in for a tackle
Or make a tackle for that matter!
- Comfortable and padded in the right places
- The 5 pads will give you the protection that you need.
- You will have full movement within your range and be able to perform with a confidence knowing the vital areas are covered.
- It has only made the bottom spot because of it’s price range.
This is a very practical set of rugby shoulder pads, but for the price you pay I personally would expect a bit more protection even though you wouldn’t need it.
6. Gilbert Atomic Shoulder Protection
The first of our Gilbert brands on this list and I can tell you that it has only dropped so low because of the lack of extra padding to the upper body
This has the shoulder, bicep and collarbone pads and it’s really comfortable
And even though the padding looks like it is on top of the material it doesn’t get damaged easily
There isn’t much of a protective armour over the mid-section of the body area so that’s why it is in the lower end of this list
- It had maximum protection on the very upper on any rugby players body.
- The material is very strong so it won’t get damaged as easily as you thought.
- Gilbert is a brand that you can trust so it can only offer you the satisfaction that you deserve while playing rugby.
- There isn’t protective padding on the sternum.
As a popular choice of brand I can’t really say they are going to let you down in what they say they will deliver but I can honestly say that there are better Gilbert shoulder pads out there than this one as you will be able to see below.
This is still a great piece of rugby protection clothing.
5. Gilbert Men’s Triflex Match V3
This Gilbert Triflex V3 Body Armour was improved and updated in 2018 and is without a doubt the most popular rugby protection top that most rugby players prefer to choose more than any other body armour in 2019
In the description of this top, it says it has “Free floating interlinked closed cell triangular foam padding which moulds to the wearer” all I hear when I read that is blah, blah, blah, blah…
What I can tell you though is that the protective padding isn’t fixed to the fabric but when you have it on it just feels like a second skin
And the padding fits perfectly to your body giving you the comfort that you need to carry on with the game at hand
You will have more protection than most body armour with the 8 well-placed pads which will cover your back, sternum, shoulders, and even your biceps which can take a lot of beating in a rugby game with all the tackles you put in
It is super breathable as it has large DUOX mesh panels around the top in the key places where you most need them
So you won’t sweat as much as you would with other regular protective body armour
- One of the best-selling Gilbert body armour to date so you know that you are buying something that is tried and tested and keeps getting great reviews.
- The padding just moulds to your body so it doesn’t feel like you have the pads just sticking out from where they are placed.
- 8 pads as opposed to the normal 4 or even 6 that most body armour has so you get that extra protection in your arm area as well as the other vulnerable places.
- The large well-placed mesh panels will give your body that much-needed flow of air to cool you down during a tough and sweaty rugby game.
- Not many colour options so you might be wearing the same as your team-mates.
- Bit overpriced and that is why it isn’t high on this list.
I think this body armour is a bit overpriced but you really do get what you pay for here
Not only is this top comfortable but it will certainly last you quite some time as it is very durable.
4. Optimum 5 Pad Tribal
This is the up to date version which now has full-length Lycra material throughout the whole top
With well placed 15mm E.V.A. padding on the sternum, biceps, and on each shoulder that can be easily removed for cleaning
And it will also give you that little bit extra protection that you need going into that big tackle on the rugby field
It has been designed for rugby league players but it is perfect for any form of rugby as you will be facing the same contact whether you play rugby league or rugby union
- It has an extra long body length so you won’t have to worry about it rising up during a game.
- Perfectly placed padding to protect those vulnerable parts of your body whilst going into those hard tackles.
- The padding can be removed from the top to make it much easier to just throw it in the washing machine to clean those muddy stains out.
- It is ideal for all contact sport and not just for Rugby League so you know that you will be getting a quality piece of sports safety clothing.
- Even though Optimum has been around for quite some time now producing quality rugby clothing and apparel some rugby players are not a huge fan of the brand, I really don’t know why as I think they have some great stuff and this is one of them…But that is just my opinion.
I think this is a reasonable price and a brand that keeps delivering quality
I personally haven’t had any problems with Optimum in the past and I can’t see me having any with the 5-Pad Tribal.
3. DGYAO Padded Compression Shirt
If you are looking for a really comfortable fit with no restrictions on your movement then I would highly recommend this one
It is going to provide you with padded support for your chest, waist, back, and shoulders which any good bodyguard should do
It’s made out of a breathable compression material which will not only reduce the amount you sweat but will also reduce the recovery time of your muscle injuries
The material is even antibacterial to reduce the smell that you probably will get from a tough game or training session
And also anti-itch so you will feel warm on a cold day, and cool on a hot day making you feel comfortable in any weather.
- Gives your shoulders, ribs, and chest that extra support for those crunching tackles that you put in on the rugby field.
- Stays where it is and doesn’t rise up your back or belly so you don’t have to keep pulling it down all the time.
- Antibacterial & Anti-Itch material for a comfortable and odour-free fit so you can enjoy the game at hand.
- Keeps its shape even after you have given it loads of washes for a longer lasting fit.
- It is quite plain looking but you are on a rugby field and not a fashion show.
I have to say that for a brand that I had never heard of I think that out of this list this one is my favourite shoulder pad/bodyguard as it really does tick all the boxes for what you need it for
Just because it is a brand you don’t know, doesn’t mean it won’t do the job.
2. CCC Flexitop Plus II
So they have created this Flexitop plus pro rugby body armour with the rugby player in mind and there are a few obvious reasons why you should consider getting one of these
They really have pulled out on all the stops on this one so it just had to be in the top best 5 rugby shoulder pads in 2019
It is made out of a polycotton, lycra, and polyethene foam which might not mean a lot to you but I can assure you that you will appreciate what it does for your body while wearing it for a rugby game
The well-designed material will keep your upper body muscles compressed which will speed up your recovery time after a brutal rugby game giving you more time to rest rather than re-cooperate
It also has an elasticated collar and sleeves so it will be a much more snug and comfortable fit without it feeling too restricting
And that is the last thing you need on the field when the opposition probably wants to restrict their hands around your neck anyway
Then you have the main event that you came here for… The Padding.
After knowing what Canterbury can do with the less important factors of the shoulder pads for rugby then you know they won’t be messing around when it comes to the safety of the top
The padding is constructed with a durable honeycomb style foam on the shoulder area which is where you need the protection the most
But they are not restrictive whatsoever and will just mould to your shoulders and give you great movement and breathability
Not only that, but it has closed cell foam padding around the sternum, biceps, and kidneys which are just a few more areas that need extra protection during a rugby game
And that will also give you that extra confidence going into a heavy tackle or trying to run through the pack.
- It’s lightweight, comfortable, stretchy, durable, and breathable which are all great aspects of a perfect rugby bodyguard so you can enjoy the game more instead of getting irritated by some cheaply made version.
- The protective padding can actually be removed so you can easily wash the garment and not damage the main thing that will protect you.
- Canterbury is a brand you can trust so when you buy this you know you will be getting quality.
- As much as I love this piece of rugby protection clothing the price is a little steep in my eyes but you really do get what you pay for here.
I can’t see how Canterbury can beat the Flexitop Plus Pro, to be honest with you but I am pretty sure that they are trying to do just that down at the secret shoulder pad lab
It is a bit expensive but you are paying for quality here and you will not be disappointed.
1. Gilbert Atomic Zenon
But once you see what this top will offer you then I am pretty sure you will know why it is on this list
As you know that Gilbert doesn’t produce rubbish protective rugby clothing and this piece is certainly no exception
It is made out of a two-way stretch material which is comfortable and will be a perfect fit for you no matter what your body shape which will make you forget you are wearing it during a rugby game
That combined with the breathable moisture-management fabric and the Duo mesh panels that are on the sides, you can be assured that it is going to keep your body well ventilated and cool during those warm and sweaty Rucks, Mauls, and Scrums
The padding with this Gilbert Atomic Zenon V2 Rugby Body Armour is made with an EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) flexible zone padding and moulds perfectly around the main areas that will be taking the biggest hits
Which are your biceps, back, sternum, and obviously shoulders where the big impact takes place making you ready for even the biggest of hits
- It is a very reasonable price for what you get which means you will have more money to spend on a decent pair of rugby boots
- The moisture-management and breathable layer material will leave your body fully ventilated and feeling cool during those tough rugby games.
- The padding covers all the impact areas like any great rugby body armour should do feeling that they are just another part of your body rather than feeling like they are just stuck on there as a magnet sticks to a fridge… OK, it wasn’t the best description in the world but I think you get the picture.
- Even though it has ample padded protection all over this top, I personally think it could do with a little padding around the abdomen area just to make it 100% perfect, but that is only my opinion.
Looking at the Gilbert rugby protection as a whole, I think they have pretty much nailed it with the Atomic Zenon Body Armour and maybe after a few more minor tweaks they will be on to a complete winner.
MY RATING 9/10
So What Did You Think?
Before you buy a new rugby shoulder padded top remember to do a bit of researching first to see what type would suit your style of play
If you are in the forwards where you would be involved in most of the contact then you might want to get the most padding that you can
But if you’re a back player then you won’t be in the pack as much as a forward would then you might not need it all so you could just have the top with just padding for your shoulders.
All the very best with your rugby career and always be as safe as you can be…
Based in South Wales, Shwni is best known for being a qualified children's rugby coach & a dad to 4 sporty boys who love rugby & football. When he isn't busy finding the best sporting products for you at shwnisports, you can find him on social media by clicking the links below