The rugby season runs from fall to spring in most parts of the United States. The cooler temperatures are nice but with them come inclement weather (cold, rain, and snow) to hamper training sessions and match days. World Rugby Shop examines some basic layering basics to help you stay warm and dry regardless of the outside conditions.
Layering is the best way to properly warm-up and keep a consistent (and comfortable) body temperature during cold weather training and matches. The concept allows a player to add or remove clothing during the warm-up period so that they are not too cold when starting or get too hot as they expend more energy.
The 3 layer system – base layer, insulating layer, and shell layer – works well for rugby players. The individual layers target a specific function to allow a player to control their body temperature.
The Base Layer sits next to the skin and should feature a moisture management fabric. The layer is designed to keep you dry by pulling sweat away from the body which helps regulate your core temperature. During cold months, this helps the player avoid hypothermia and the shivering and drop of body temperature.
Synthetic polyester base layers are most common in rugby. All the major rugby manufacturers make a moisture management base layer that some players confuse for another plain t-shirt/jersey. Base layer apparel is frequently sold as compression gear but there are loose fitting options for players that don’t like the snug fit.
Players should always avoid wearing cotton as their base layer. Cotton retains moisture which works against you in cold weather especially as you start to expend less energy.
The Middle Layer is all about insulation. This layer works in 2 ways to help you stay warn. First, it traps body heat and redirects it to the body; and second, it stops cold air from reaching your body.
Synthetic polyesters and differing styles and weights of fleece are the most common material used in this layer. Micro-fleece is lightweight with a smooth finish while fleeces from the 100-weight line tend to have 1 or both sides in a fuzzy finish.
Fleece is great for cold weather but has some drawbacks in windy conditions. Fleece is not designed as a wind barrier so require additional layer to work effectively.
This is the function of the third and outer layer, the Shell Layer. The shell layer needs to provide wind and ideally water resistance as well as include some ventilation. They are usually roomy in the body and long in the arms as they are designed to be worn over under layers.
Shell layers come in a variety of weights from light windbreakers to heavier weight sometimes with fleece liners for colder climates.
The core is the focus of layering and the central system to keep your entire body warm. But this is sometimes not enough in cold climates. Rugby players in colder climates should also considering wearing a hat or beanie as well as field gloves during warm-ups drills that don’t require ball skills.
And the best piece of additional equipment for rainy days is an additional pair of sock(s). There is nothing worse than having a warm body and cold feet and a dry pair of socks goes a long way to remedying that situation.
With this 3 layer system in place, rugby players can comfortable jump from their car and get started training and removing layers as you warm-up. And always keep in mind that being too hot can be just as bad as being too cold so know your body and when it is the right time to remove a layer.
Likewise, don’t be afraid to put a layer back on if your training session and energy expended slows down and you start to cool down.
The beauty of layering is that it allows for easy and quick changes in your clothing to reach an ideal core temperature.
Get all the apparel for your own 3 Layer System at World Rugby Shop