Rugby World Cup 2011 Official Game: The Trial

I was lucky enough to be invited to ‘an evening of Beer and Rugby’ last night at the Cabbage Patch in Twickenham, where a group of bloggers and writers gathered to play the Official Rugby World Cup 2011 Game.

Rugby World Cup Game

I’m not a huge gamer to be honest, but they covered all bases with the invitation by mentioning beer as well as the game, and the rugby crowd were discernable from the gaming crowd in their approach to the evening.

Each writer was assigned a team, and we were split into four pools of three to battle it out for the smallest trophy in the history of competition. I was given Argentina, and wasn’t too disappointed with the middle-of-the-road side – at least then it wouldn’t be too embarrassing to lose heavily. Nick Heath was happy enough with England, Tom from SinBin Rugby was visibly disappointed with Italy, whilst Gareth from Rugby Spectator appeared quietly confident with Samoa – it later emerged that he’d had a good half hour practice beforehand.

Having been drawn in a pool with Australia and New Zealand, I was feeling quite hard done-by to start with, flummoxed that three of the original top four Rugby World Cup seeds would be drawn together – but I was happy enough to remain unbeaten by virtue of two relatively high-scoring draws. Not many teams can say that about a Rugby World Cup campaign, and it was a triumph for the minnows in the metaphorical pond of big gaming fish.

From a Rugby perspective, the game seemed very engaging, with little time wasted at breakdowns and set-pieces, and the actual play relatively intuitive – important for me given that I’d never even picked up an Xbox controller.

It seemed the lesser teams struggled to compete at the breakdown, where the likes of Tonga, Samoa, Argentina and other lower-ranked teams such as Wales were regularly turned over, which meant they found it hard to retain possession – frustrating to play with the weaker team, but not unrealistic!

Luckily though, some people knew the rules better than others. My strategy was to keep the ball in hand, and given the lack of success at the breakdown, look for the offload wherever possible – not unlike Australia’s style that has reaped rewards in recent years. I couldn’t get to grips with the tackling, and generally found myself looking at the controller for the tackle button whilst the opposition ran amok, but I’m told that if you know what you’re doing, it’s very realistic.

Meanwhile, some of the gaming writers preferred the kicking option, and one of my favourite plays was when someone went for a punt inside the opposition 22, knocked it over the posts, only to be disappointed at the lack of points on offer.

Rugby World Cup GameThe England boys had been playing the game at Pennyhill Park the evening before, and there were some amusing tweets emanating from camp. Toby Flood claimed that the game lost credibility by making Ben Youngs lithe and quick, whilst there were some raised eyebrows at the apparent speed of Mike Tindall. The photo opposite was probably Tindall and Dylan Hartley laughing at Shontayne Hape making a break. ‘As if’, says Tindall. New Zealand won the writers’ tournament for the record, which makes it even more unrealistic.

The overall standard of play at the writers preview was fairly abysmal, and not really surprising since the game has not yet been launched – tacklers diving all over the place, wingers kicking the ball instead of touching down for a try, and lots of passing into touch. But you could tell that there were various layers of complexity in areas such as hand-offs, sidesteps and defensive alignments, that would keep the avid gamer entertained beyond the basic mastery of running and passing.

When I was interviewed about the game afterwards – I’m sure a video will surface somewhere – I was asked about the new features such as chip kicks, and the pick and go option. It’s difficult for me to comment on that, given that I wasn’t familiar with the old features, but from a Rugby point of view, it was pretty decent.

It’s faster than other Rugby games seem to be, without being ridiculous, and it’s as realistic as I’ve seen. The risk / reward options like offloads (and chip kicks apparently) can work out brilliantly, but they can also cost you possession and points, whilst if you get isolated with ball in hand, the likelihood is that you’ll be turned over.

I can’t tell you much about the controls, available camera angles or anything technical like that – I’m from the Jonah Lomu 1995 school of rugby gamers, which was all about the offloads, running in the air, quick throw-ins behind your own goal-line, and the classic Bill McLaren commentary. But from a Rugby fan’s perspective, this game definitely held my attention and I can imagine it getting pretty competitive with a few mates and a few beers.

If you have any specific questions about it, leave a comment here and I’ll respond to the best of my ability!

For more screenshots, photos, news and release dates, check out the Rugby World Cup 2011 Official Game page on Facebook –

33 thoughts on “Rugby World Cup 2011 Official Game: The Trial

  1. I have a question. Is there a feature that you can play just as 1 player rather than the whole team like is popular in most sporting games these days?

      1. yeah thats what i mean. In all the latest EA sports games (Fifa, Madden, NHL) They have that feature and it is surprisingly good fun. The camera angles and whatnot make it feel like you’re on the pitch and realistic. It’s not for everyone but I enjoy the more focussed game. I know this isn’t an EA sports game though so I wasn’t really expecting it.

        I used to play scrum half (before putting on another 4 stone and forgetting how to pass off my left hand) and wanted to recreate that fun. I’m very much a geeky gamer so I’m looking forward to this game. Glad it’s not absolute rubbish.

      2. Your write ups always amuse me, dry as a bone!

        I wish someone would put Stpehen jones, ackford etc into retirement.

        I think the game sounds fun, especially betting over a few ales!

    1. Don’t know the answer to that I’m afraid. There are some licensing announcements coming up though apparently – they are embargoed for now, but that’s not important because I can’t remember what they are!

  2. Will there be a game released for Ipad/ipod/iphone. would really love a decent rugby game for them.

    1. Just the national teams competing in the World Cup I believe. You can edit players though, including names, abilities and characteristics, so technically, you could create whichever side you like!

  3. Sounds pretty decent. Rugby Challenge has a lot more teams and it has create a player and stuff plus its made by a NZ company. I will rent both and then decide which to buy.

  4. Ok, I’m gonna speak on behalf of the wider gaming community. This game is a disaster. From all the hype, all the talk of a brand new rugby game… it has failed and has pissed off a lot of fans including myself.
    All they have done in this game is render the graphics better (and they’re still not even that great). The code used to make the game is EXACTLY the same as Rugby 08. I’m not saying this for the hell of it either, just look at the official trailer on Youtube and check the dislikes. There are a lot of people that are extremely disappointed.

    1. I can’t really comment for those people, nor speak from a gaming perspective (and I haven’t played Rugby 08!), but I thought it was a decent game.

    2. Gerald, I am in the same boat as you which is why I am so happy that Rugby Challenge is coming out at around the same time as this game. Makes this game look absolutely rubbish from what I’ve seen so far.

    1. Not all teams will be licensed as they seem to be in a license battle with rugby challenge. Rugby Challenge have Aus and NZ so far. Rubbish that they make a World Cup game without the hosts licensed and then to release images and game trailers that show not much has progressed in the last 4 years. Rugby Challenge is the game to get unless of course you like being limited to 20 teams and 1 competition.

  5. Did Australia and New Zealand look realistic and did they have all the normal players beacause they arent licensed? Thanks :)

  6. I think you are underestimating Argentina and it will be a pain in the ass for England. By the way it sucks this game

  7. Yes, I said something about it but they erased my comment, awful review, awful game it will be…

    1. this isnt a game review website, its a website for “real” rugby.
      and as hutch points out he isnt a gamer so you shouldnt have expected a thorugh review.
      stick to geek sites!

      1. This isn’t a “real” rugby thread is it? The thread is about the game. Stick to the matter at hand, if not, then go to a “real” rugby thread.

        As for Hutch not being a gamer, that’s not the point at all. We are gamers and we are giving OUR gaming opinion.

        As for the gamers who think this is a review, it’s not. Its an observation. Theres a difference

  8. It hasn’t come as a surprise to me about what they’ve done with Wales. Eventhough Wales’ best play has been at ruck’s and mall’s. Typical of a southern hemisphere game. No doubt New Zealand and Australia will be un-defeatable. I don’t think I’ll bother with this game….

    1. Southern Hemishere game? Haha this game was made in Canada, the only teams they have licensed are the Six nations (northern hemisphere) and SA. NZ and Aus aren’t and won’t be licensed. I’m from NZ. This game is rubbish. Honestly Rugby Challenge is the only rugby game worth getting. It is graphically better and apparently team styles can be changed and depending on skill level rucks and mauls can dictate the game.

  9. Rugby Challenge ( looks like a far better game. It appears to me that RWCgame is just an effort to maximize revenue from the popularity of the world cup and the national teams, while Sidhe is putting a lot of effort into just making a really good game.

    I wish both companies could have worked together uniting the obviously attractive national team licenses of RWCgame with the great gameplay features and graphics of Rugby Challenge.

  10. Do not buy this game! It is about the poorest attempt at a rugby game. Simply rugby 2008 with a hd gloss. It hasnt even got new Zealand and Australia in it…..waste of money

  11. This was without a doubt the worst game purchase I ever made! I’ve been waiting 4 years for a good rugby game and really all I could have done was play Rugby 08 at least there were more teams to choose from! Really hope rugby challenge is better!!!!!!!!! Just a pity South Africa aren’t licenced

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