Adidas’ rugby-specific boot line has been evolving under the radar for a few seasons now, with many not even being aware of the dedicated releases; and with the latest edition of the Predator Malice Control, Adidas has finally found the right mix of comfort while fulfilling the needs of kickers and mobile forwards alike.
So, what makes the Malice Control different from the Predators we see on the feet of some of the world’s best footballers? Well, the Malice Control is really designed for the mobile player in mind – those who need agility to dodge, move, and make tackles, while also being padded and durable enough for the stresses that come with kicking and the general demands of rugby.
From a design perspective, the upper is made of a soft synthetic, which almost simulates a kangaroo leather, but maintains its shape and form while also being a lot lighter. A soft foam layer gives the kicking area a bit of padding, so that you have ample protection and oomph when making contact with the ball. To help this even more, the laces are offset asymmetrically, opening up the space on the medial side of your foot and usual lacing area as a clean kicking-area. Inset rubber grooves also provide some grip on the ball to give you a little more control on those tactical kicks.
Of course, kicking is only one aspect of rugby, so how do the Malice Control perform when on the run? The boots feature a more classic silo, opting to not include any sock-upper or high-cut variant which you see on many football boots these days. Due to this, they’re easy to slip on, but offer some great lockdown thanks to the lacing system and solid sole-plate. There isn’t too much flex in the sole-plate, and this is intentional as it gives you a far sturdier and supported feel in motion; however there is more than enough snap in the toe area to allow you to get your toes into the group when accelerating.
As for the stud-pattern, this is where Adidas have made the biggest changes. The German brand has been experimenting with various stud layouts and shapes in recent years, with a triangular stud shape appearing across the whole sole plate in previous models. While this was supposed to be ‘the next big thing’ in terms of traction, the problem was that this didn’t give many agile rugby players the flexibility they needed when pivoting, cutting, or rotating. While the triangular design did have more bite in the ground, it poses a problem with rotating while embedded, which could lead to injuries and joint strain. Adidas have instead opted for a far-more traditional conical stud pattern across the entire boot, and this back-to-basics approach has made the Malice Control a far more accessible, less aggressive, and dynamic boot for more types of surfaces and playing styles.
From a design perspective, the boot has a relatively streamline silhouette, but will fit most wide-footed players thanks to a roomy forefoot and toe-box area. It does have a high, elongated heel-counter, which is one of the stranger design quirks, but it doesn’t cause any chafing or irritation and more just offers an area to grab and pull when putting the boots on.
Appearance-wise, the much-seen blue and white colourway (which was very prominent on the feet of many players during the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan), has been swapped out for a dark red and peach combination, which the upper and laces being the scarlet red tone, while the sole plate, heel area, and Adidas’ three-stripes being the lighter orange/peach colour. It’s a really striking and unique combo, and offers something different from the excess of usual orange and lumo colours which seem to be splashed across the various boot-range each year.
If you’re the type of player who needs something lightweight yet durable and dynamic on your feet in games or practice, it might well be worth investing in a pair of Adidas Malice Control boots. The soft upper, accessible fit, and vastly-improved sole plate and stud pattern make the Malice Control a no-brainer for those who want something a little more tailored to the oval-ball game and demands of aggressive running.
*Review item was purchased by MenStuff and was not supplied by Adidas.