By Thomas Costes – Posted on 10 Nov 2022 at 17:00
We need it. Rugby fans want just that. A good game of rugby to spend time on as the World Cup approaches. With the possibility of seeing our Blues crowned with regard to their level in recent months, it is more than necessary that we have a game of rugby and not football.
Rugby: a sport neglected by the industry
Yes, it’s probably my southern roots talking. Fan of Stade Toulousain (there is only one stadium, we are not going to ignite), there has been a great void for a few years now concerning this sport. But far be it from me to ask for a game the size of a FIFA. It’s just not possible. I know it well. But we want a game that can allow us to get closer to it. We want the Top 14 (the ProD2 and the Federal too), the Super Rugby, the VI Nations, the World Cup or even the Champions Cup. We want to have the possibility of creating our player or coach in order to evolve in different clubs. And as we know, France, the British, Oceania and South Africa largely have a potential audience for this kind of video game. But why so little enthusiasm?
A sport obviously less popular than football but which defends identities
Indeed, in terms of popularity, football remains much more popular than the oval ball. On the one hand, it is easier to play football than rugby. We are not going to lie to each other. But still, you can see some interesting things in the numbers. If Ligue 1 remains far superior to the other championships, ProD2 tends to catch up with Ligue 2 with the number of spectators. The Federal even exceeded the National in affluence. Interesting fact in the capital, according to Le Parisien, Stade Français (vade retro satanas) would be much more popular than its neighbor across the street: PSG.
When looking at the turnover figures, football generates €5 billion in turnover in France, and nearly €400 billion worldwide. For comparison, rugby generated “only” €1.25 billion between 2018 and 2019, i.e. 4 times less than the middle of the round ball. We can also dwell on the number of licensees. Rugby has around 245,000 licensees in January 2022. Football has about 2,127,000 licensees in May 2022. A monstrous difference that would legitimize the fact that football should have many more places than rugby. However, the concentrations of licensees are very different. While football is everywhere in France, rugby licensees are mainly concentrated in the South West of the country.
However, when we look at other figures, it allows us to put these facts into perspective a little. For the autumn tour, the Blues have gathered close to 5.1 million viewers for a friendly match against Australia. As part of the Nations League, the France-Croatia match attracted 6.38 million viewers. Statistics show that there is more and more interest in rugby. In the last match of the VI Nations tournament last March, the crunch broke records. 8.95 million viewers were in front of their TV and a peak of 10.5 million even took place! During the victory of the French football team in the League of Nations, it is “only” 8.10 million viewers who were in front of their screen.
Rugby defends an identity
Rugby is anchored in the DNA of the French. It makes it possible to highlight values, identities as well as regions and departments that are sometimes neglected by football. While football could be a city sport, rugby could be the praise of the regions.. But the question is a little more complex because you have to take into account the distance to a stadium and the ability to get to it. Lots of questions could be raised such as the geography of the practitioners, the social origin, etc… But the answer would unfortunately be too long.
Whatever, rugby has really taken root in some parts of the country and the world. Occitania, for example, has the largest number of professional clubs in France. 4 are in Top 14 and 4 in ProD2. At the same time, it is not uncommon to hear the deepest claims of the Basque Country in the Bayonne stadium. Rugby is at the heart of regional identity more than cities really. It highlights a way of living and practicing sport. This can also be thought of when Scottish clubs play against English clubs. But to tell the truth I am not a connoisseur so I would refrain from developing any thought.
But be careful, I’m not saying that football doesn’t convey them, I’m saying that rugby offers different ones.
And it is urgent to highlight these territories as well as these identities which also live through a sporting passion.
Rugby games not really successful
Personally, the last rugby game i actually played is Rugby 2005. Developed by EA Sports, the game was simply super fun to play. We could train to understand the basics of the sport and then improve on the combinations. We launched world cups as well as European cups with our favorite clubs. Even if they weren’t all represented, we had plenty of fun. Starting a match with a friend was easy! But for 15 years now, rugby games no longer manage to make me vibrate. They do not really respond to the wishes of the players and all too often offer hyper complex or even elitist gameplay.
Take the case of the latest game: Rugby 22. The game developed by Nacon was rated 4/10 by ActuGaming. At the same time, readers of JeuxVidéo.com gave it a score of 17/20. The game is absolutely not to be thrown away, but the ratings show that there is indeed a problem of what the players really want. The game has been able to take elements from previous games that improve the gaming experience. However, as a rugby fan, I don’t necessarily find myself there. I know it well that the player that I am is never satisfied, and we all are.. But I would like a game (or several) that would transcribe what high-level rugby really is.
The game(s) we would like
For us, a good rugby game should link two things: the tactical and technical aspect of rugby, but also a somewhat arcade aspect for the game phases. Why not imagine a Rugby Manager 2022? This would allow to approach all the tactical aspect, the transfers, the life of a club. A real passionate game! We would put in place the tactics, the phases of the games to be deployed as well as the training. We could play it like we play Football Manager or Pro Cycling Manager. Rugby fans would be delighted to be able to win the Top 14 at UBB (kisses to my Bordeaux friends). This very technical game would really be intended for fans. So yes there is Rugby Manager, but let’s be honest. We are very far from what one can imagine. The animations are not really tops and the choices are very quickly limited.
Another game idea could be that of a much more arcade and mainstream game. It is up to the player to develop the game phases by taking part in championships, European cups or even World cups. We could create our own player and make a career with our favorite club. We would choose the position on which we would like to evolve. The gameplay would be quite simple to learn and would allow us to play matches against our friends and online.. We don’t really ask for more, just fun!
On top of that, the level of women is exploding. The developers could thus offer female teams in the game and allow everyone to be able to identify themselves in the game.
So yes, it’s a bit utopian…
But I want to believe that one day we could play a game of rugby like we play FIFA. With players like Antoine Dupont, Ange Capuozzo and Aaron Smith, rugby has its stars as well as its fans. We want to see the sport we cherish presented to as many people as possible in order to expose the passion that drives us.
And the most important thing: go to Stade Toulousain.