The best rugby shorts to pull on whether you’re back in training or playing again, or getting yourself ready for the new season.

Best rugby shorts 2021

With rugby all over the world disrupted to a greater or lesser degree below the professional level at the moment, it’s hard to know when amateur rugby as we used to know it is going to get back to normal. But we live in hope, and whether you’re back playing full-contact, touch, just in training, or simply pining for getting back on the pitch, you can’t really do that without a decent pair of rugby shorts, can you? 

Rugby shorts are of course a different kettle of fish to most sports shorts – they have to be extremely hard to rip or tear while also allowing a good range of movement, so picking the right pair for you is important. Whether it be a super-advanced modern pair, a traditional cotton option, something lightweight and breathable, or a combination of all the above, here are the best rugby shorts to buy in 2020. 

Best rugby shorts 2021

Adidas 3-Stripes Rugby Shorts

Best rugby shorts

Image: Adidas

+ Ventilated panels to keep you cool

+ Soft-touch fabric for extra comfort

Sizing runs small

A good pair of rugby shorts has to balance being hard-wearing and rugged enough not to tear or stretch in the tackle, but also flexible enough to allow the full range of movement whether you’re stepping, packing down in the scrum or jumping for the high ball. 

These 3-Stripes Shorts offer hard-wearing, tough fabric in the main, but with some handy Climacool ventilation panels in key areas to ensure that you’re keeping your temperature regulated from the first whistle until the end of the game. 

Canterbury Professional Cotton Rugby Shorts

Best rugby shorts

Image: Sports Direct

+ Comfort of cotton

+ Hard-wearing and rugged design

Won’t moisture-wick like artificial fabric

If you prefer the more traditional feel of a cotton shirt compared to more modern polyester-based fabrics, these all-cotton shorts from Canterbury might be for you, especially as the hard-wearing woven fabric means they’ll stand up to plenty of punishment. 

They’ve got an elasticated waistband, but don’t expect a great deal of give from the fabric itself, and it won’t dry out or wick moisture like an artificial fabric either. 

Rhino Auckland Rugby Shorts

Best rugby shorts

Image: Amazon

+ Good value

+ Lycra inserts for movement and comfort

Not the most stylish 

British brand Rhino might be most famous for its ubiquitous tackle bags and scrum machines, which are found on the training paddocks of practically every top-flight team you care to mention, but the Cardiff-based company also has a long-running and well-respected line in apparel and teamwear. 

These Auckland shorts are a good example of this – they might not win any awards for stylishness, but they’re rugged, strong, and offer player-friendly design tweaks to improve your performance, including lycra inserts on the sides and crotch to improve movement and flexibility.

Umbro England Alternate Shorts 20/21

Best rugby shorts

Image: Umbro

+ Four-way stretch material for ease of movement

+ Flock graphic on sides to help water drain

Not one for non-England fans

We could have chosen the home shorts here but for the sake of your laundry we think the blue alternate ones are going to look better after an evening on a muddy training pitch. 

New England supplier Umbro has certainly created a short that’s ready for the elements, however, with clever flocked graphic on the side seam designed to allow water to run off you without soaking into the material. The four-way stretch material and reinforced seams mean that you’ll also be able to move with comfort and confidence… provided you’re an England fan of course! 

Gilbert Kiwi Pro Short

Best rugby shorts

Image: Amazon

+ Flexible fabric to increase comfort

+ Offset leg seams reduce chafing

Not everyone wants pockets in their shorts

Rugby ball specialist Gilbert also has a successful line of teamwear and apparel – the British brand even supplies the Barbarians at the moment. So you know these shorts are made to work on the field. 

The Kiwi’s fabric is a little more flexible than many rugby shorts, which will be ideal if you don’t enjoy the rugged restrictiveness of regular shorts, while the offset inside leg seams reduce any risk of chafing. There’s also two stitched pockets – a feature that some player won’t want if they’re planning to play in them, but undeniably useful if you’re wearing these shorts to training or the gym as well. 

Canterbury British and Irish Lions Match Shorts

Best rugby shorts

Image: England Rugby Store

+ Ripstop fabric will stand up to rigours of the game

+ Stretch side panels for improved freedom of movement

Colour may not stay that way for long

The Lions 2021 shorts are unsurprisingly the pinnacle of what Canterbury offers in terms of rugby shorts, and so you’ll find a wealth of handy innovations under the hood to help you reach peak performance, even if you’re not an elite athlete. 

The ripstop fabric that makes up the main body of the shorts can take a lot of punishment, while the elasticated side panels means you won’t be restricted, the Vapodri coating to everything is designed to wick moisture away from the skin to keep you cool and dry, and there’s even a grip material on the waistband to make sure the shorts don’t move around as you play. To be honest, the only thing that’s not to like is the fact that they’re white, and we all know what white shorts will look like at the end of a game…

Adidas All Blacks 2019/20 Home Shorts

Best rugby shorts

Image: Adidas

+ Soft pique fabric for added comfort

+ ‘Triaxle’ fabric pattern 

Run a little small for casual wear

The All Blacks are at the forefront of rugby technology thanks to their long-running partnership with Adidas that sees the three-time world champions get first access to all the sportswear giant’s latest developments, as well as being heavily involved in testing and R&D along the way. 

And that’s why the All Blacks shorts are an excellent option if you want something that feels elite whether you’re training or playing, soft pique polyester fabric is super-soft for comfort, but still strong enough to deal with the rigours of a game. 

Macron Wales Home Shorts 20/21

Best rugby shorts

Image: Pro:Direct Rugby

+ Elasticated side panels

+ Silicone grip waistband

Wales fans only need apply

Identical to the gear worn by Alun Wyn Jones and co on the field, these new Macron shorts obviously won’t be for any non-Wales fans out there, but if you support the men in red you could do much worse than this Test-ready pair. 

So in addition to looking rather stylish with it’s red elasticated side panels that also offer improved range of motion, you also get a natty WRU shield and an elasticated waistband with grippy silicone elements to ensure they stay where they’re supposed to be at all times. 

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