Updated: Apr 2
It's no secret that Rugby fans are desperate for a new game to play, especially during another lockdown! For years now we've campaigned for our favourite studios to take a chance on one of the worlds largest, growing sports but as of yet, we've barely had so much as a rumour of the next EA Rugby let alone a property by developers who are genuinely passionate about the brutal game.
It's was one of Pichots clear campaign strategies to bring Rugby into the digital age; something that sadly hasn't been echoed by Beaumont ever since he won the presidency.
The engines are there and already built from previous titles that were fun and engaging, the audience is there and new demographics are popping up around the world, but with each year that passes we seem further and further away from the next big virtual experience.
So join us as we reflect and list on our 'Top 5: Best/Favourite Rugby Games'... Enjoy!
5. Rugby Challenge (2011)
Probably the last Rugby game that felt playable, Rugby Challenge was by no means the perfect sporting experience. It had weird bugs, terrible player ratings and big-standard animations littered throughout. However, it did have a really fun, arcade-like feel when with friends. The 'Create a Player' and 'Create a Team' customisations also were the most in depth we'd seen up to that point. The tournament modes all worked as you'd expect, the commentary was palatable and we had a fair share of branded teams on the disc.
It's also important to remember it had been just shy of four years since we had a Rugby game on console. By this point we could hardly be fussy with what we supported development-wise. A solid, if not inspiring entry on this list.
4. Rugby (2001)
A game not many people talk about (perhaps because its been two decades since its release), Rugby (2001) is definitely the first high-standard experience on this list. For me, it possessed some of best gameplay we had seen in the digital era. Easy to understand and accessible ruck and mauling mechanics, smooth and crisp animations, realistic player ratings, even team selection and the ability to play full 80 minute matches, I would often pick two sides that I found interesting match ups, stick the CPU against each other on the highest difficulty and watch awesome simulations be carried out whilst Rugby wasn't on TV in the mid week.
Unfortunately the customisation options were very limited and it lacked a stacked list of game modes, but this game remains one of the best virtual experiences we've had yet in Rugby.
3. Rugby (2005)
This is where competition becomes really tight to pick from. Rugby (2005) followed off of the back of a really disappointing 2004 title that promised much more than we were eventually given. It had great graphics, a new system, fully licensed leagues, minor international teams included, the first ever 'World League', a handful of tournament modes and great customisation options. It really felt like the first Rugby game in a long time that could hold up to the quality if its Football and American Football based counterparts.
The player ratings were pretty bang on, it was just about accessible enough for you to pick up and play against friends and the difficulty modes gave you a rewarding and challenging experience even after hours of practicing. A really worthwhile pickup for any memorabilia enthusiasts out there.
2. Jonah Lomu Rugby (1997)
You knew this one was going to be on the list somewhere! Even though I was born the year of its release, for a good decade later it was still one of my go to video games, forcing me to switch from PS3 to PS1 just to get a taste of what it had to offer.
A bunch of tournaments and game modes, this game also had a very fun 'Scenario' based feature that let you rewrite historical games in your own hands. Sure it was arcade like and nowhere near as complete a product as games that came after, but it always felt like the definitive Rugby experience with tight visuals, an attention to detail in both attack and defence animations, and an awesome cover/box art.
1. Rugby (2008)
It was always going to be a toss up between this title and Rugby (2006). Both had full licensed teams and tournaments, both had great customisation, both had surprisingly fun and engaging commentary by Ian Robinson and Grant Fox, and both had bang-on player ratings. However, there are a couple of reasons why this title edges the others out for me. The new offload system was point perfect, allowing you to create interesting set pieces that didn't finish after the first collision. The Rugby World Cup 2007 mode felt large and momentous, with interesting graphics and squad customisable squad builders. The 'World League' was better than ever, with a range of teams to pick from and a fully realised transfer system. All of this on top of what was already a really strong gameplay build from 2006 and an even better soundtrack.
What did you think of our list? Any games that you would include? Let us know in the comments!