Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Its been a particularly difficult time to be a Rugby gaming enthusiast over the last 10 years. Although we've had a spattering of titles from year to year, let's face it, there hasn't been a 'good' Rugby game since 2008. Even then, the game was manufactured in 2007 so you're looking at 14 years since we received anything remotely decent. In this short passage I'm not going to tell you how to improve the games we currently have, I think the developers are trying hard themselves, but I'm going to at least state a couple of reasons as to WHY they must improve urgently.
When running for presidency, Pichot made a very good point on the lack of Rugby digital presence in comparison to other major sports. If you're a golfer, you've got PGA tour. If you're into American Football, you've got Madden. If you're into Football, of course, you have Fifa. If we are going to pull the next generation of Rugby mega fans, a video game is surely your most important asset. I remember growing up with Rugby 06, being able to switch it on during weekends that had fixture breaks or even replaying terrible games that I had seen earlier in the day. It even improved my Rugby knowledge and allowed me to research new teams and upcoming talent in a fun and intuitive way. Our youngsters don't have that, unless a blinding game is played out on the weekend, what do we have to keep them interested?
The next key point is on professionalism. When Rugby originally went professional we had best broadcasting choices, excellent punditry teams and an improved watching experience. We also had great merchandise and video games! For a sport with such a platform to have such poor gaming titles linked to it, brings down the professional presence of the game. When smaller sports like Hockey, Aussie Rules and Rugby League are getting better video games, by price of association Rugby Union looks like a smaller sport. That's not the influence you want to be giving newbies when trying to convince them to become a fan.
Interactivity on social media has become a staple of any good sporting team. We've seen clubs really embrace new technology and platforms in broadcasting their news and updates over social media with fun YouTube skits and Facebook promotions. A big part of this for other sports however, have been tournaments on games like Fifa and NBA 2K which have allowed sporting heroes to interact with their fans and raise their profile off of the silver screen. No one is going to tune in to a Rugby 20 tournament are they?
Lastly Rugby video games would make a boat load of cash which is what we are desperately missing at the time of writing this. Clubs are under constant threat of going under, clubs have no opportunities to effectively use their branding to sell and players are demanding more money. Even though Rugby games benefit the developers pockets more than the clubs, that cash injection from brand rights, free marketing and off-field hype could generate better merchandise sales, revitalise the hunger to visit your favourite sports stadium and as a result raise cash for the teams that need it. It boggles the mind that a Rugby video game seems so overlooked by those in charge of the sport; the global success of Fifa and NBA 2K isn't a fluke, its focus.