Updated: Mar 29
We've tried to avoid being particularly controversial on this platform since we are still very much in our growth stage. However, we have started to develop a tenancy to touch the nerve of the avid Rugby fan. Whether it's calling Johnny Sexton a 'bit of a diver' or think Jordan Crane should be revered as a Premiership all time great, we know how to spice things up a little bit. With a list like this on the other hand, I think it's impossible to upset any Rugby fans of any demographics. The Rugby video gaming landscape has been diabolical of late, with some of the worst sporting titles plaguing our once virtually entertaining sport. So join us as we count through our 'Top 5: Worst Rugby Video Games'... Enjoy!
5. World Championship Rugby (2004)
It might seem a little harsh to include WCR on this list since it is approaching it's 17th birthday and it's far from the broken mess that the rest of the games are on this list. I think what qualifies it for this accolade however, is its lack of substance. I've never been a huge fan of games that are made off of the back of one international tournament; that cuts the playable options down considerably and even more so if the other tournaments aren't properly licensed. The gameplay is WCR has a real arcade feel with a concentration of try scoring than accurate simulation; again there is nothing wrong with that. The player models however were these weird, little stout men in each position without game faces or much to separate them outside of colour of skin. The animations are also pretry over the top with each tackle looking more like a suplex than a tackle. It's not a bad game per say, just lacking much to do and after about an hour of playing it, you'll probably tire of its in game action. You can tell the game was only made off of the back of the 2003 tournaments popularity...
4. Rugby Challenge 4 (2020)
The most recent game on this list and another controversial one, Rugby Challenge is far from the worst Rugby game we've received in the last five years (as you'll soon find out) but it is the biggest disappointment in the history of Rugby video games. Rugby Challenge 1 brought back the arcade feel of Jonah Lomu Rugby back in 2003 with fun, fast and frenetic gameplay, an impressive amount of customisation options and a fair share of licensed teams. Since then, the series has become an almost unplayable mess. Each new release has felt like a DLC pack and the jump from PS3 to PS4 was jarring with the newer titles becoming glitchy and buggy messes. Rugby Challenge 4 added nothing to the series despite being the most expensive to buy title yet. The graphics look the exact same as Rugby Challenge 1, the ruck and scrum mechanics are frustrating and flimsy, the passing has never been less fluid and there are so many international teams without proper licensing. Its almost impossible to find an online match too and when you do get into one, the servers are shot to bits. At £50 plus on most platforms, don't even bother considering this game as a viable Rugby gaming purchase.
3. Rugby 18 (2017)
You might have looked at the last two titles and felt indifferent about them, or with Rugby Challenge 4, at least respected them for trying to be faithful to the community of World Rugby, but Rugby 18 is a well documented dumpster fire. 'A woefully inadequate representation of one of the worlds' most popular sports' is the headline for the Games Radar article based on the mess that is Rugby 18. Apart from its goal kicking mechanics, which are the same they've always been since titles in the early 2000s, the game is unplayable with glitches and bugs constant throughout. There are game breaking crashes, stupid AI and the game offers little to no challenge. There are only a handful of properly licensed teams and on the international level, there are even less familiar names. It's awful and it offered arguably the worst Rugby gameplay in the history of video gaming. It was so bad that another Rugby game wouldn't be released for another two years. Really appalling stuff... Also its still listed at £48 on Amazon, you could buy Ghosts of Tshushima, Fallout 4 and Rocket League altogether for less than that.
2. Rugby World Cup 2015 (2015)
The Rugby World Cup in 2015 was hosted in England (as embarrassing as that was at the time) and Rugby World Cup 2015 DIDN'T EVEN HAVE ENGLAND AS LICENSED TEAM... Absolutely atrocious behaviour... A rushed game pushed out to the masses to capitalise on the most popular tournament to date, this game had the cheek to charge a premium price for an unfinished slush bucket of a game. It had all the common faults we've already mentioned (terrible AI, sloppy mechanics and game breaking bugs), but the graphics were also hideous, the colours were migraine-inducing and it was universally panned as one of the worst sports titles of all time. IGN gave the game a 1.5 out of 10, Games Radar gave it a 2 out of 5 stars and even online Rugby personalities denounced the game as a shameless cash grab. If you simmed games, there would be often implausible results (even though it did get right the South Africa vs Japan result on a couple of occasions some how) and the pre-determined outcomes of every tackle led to chequered gameplay that was often stop-start and unbalanced. After hearing all this, can you guess what is number one?
1. Rugby 15 (2014)
.You know what we mentioned in the last section? Imagine if that game was released a year prior in it's development cycle, for a higher price and tried to shoe-horn in a load of unfinished character models to pass them off as other unlicensed players in very-real teams... Sounds pretty gross right? I don't think it's an understatement to say that this game was so bad that it genuinely brought Rugby's reputation into disrepute. We often talk about Rugby not making enough effort to entice the younger generation... Was this our best answer? It's a class A travesty, a big, bulging blemish of a sore on the face of 21st century Rugby. It's quite frankly a disgrace... Can I be any more negative? Well yes, the game is half baked, a blatant cash grab and the epitome of terrible sporting video games. I can gush about how terrible the mechanics, animations and AI is but we would just be retrodding old ground...