For rugby fans who enjoy video games, even though all of the latest games have far better graphics than these two games, there’s still a lot of discussion about the most fantastic video game of all time in the world of rugby. It almost always exclusively comes down to Rugby 06 or the retro classic Jonah Lomu Rugby, named after the legend himself, of course, which is the first game we will take a look at.
Jonah Lomu Rugby
It’s challenging to encapsulate just how popular Jonah Lomu was then and how popular his game was. Millions of units of this game were shipped worldwide, and it took advantage of his immense popularity as rugby’s first genuine crossover star. Jonah was immaculately gifted with ethereal athleticism, speed, and power. Off the pitch, he was known as a gentle, kind, and compassionate person who gave much of his time to charitable causes. The game which bears his name is still fondly remembered all these years later.
The world has changed significantly since the game first came out in 1997, and the video gaming world has witnessed significant changes and evolutions. Nowadays, the industry combines the best computer graphic designers, videographers, story writers, and game developers, creating games that are dimensions more evolved than their predecessors. You can play video games online, and there are even several gambling markets where you can bet on the outcomes of professional video game tournaments, known as eSports tournaments.
While no rugby eSports tournaments currently exist, there might be momentum for some in the future. However, eSports is big business, with some partnering with reputable gambling companies, signing big endorsement brand deals, and bringing the latest eSports gambling markets to your fingertips. One of the best examples is the partnership between Thunderpick & Evil Geniuses.
Who knows whether we will see a rugby eSports tournament one day? If a game with the quality of Jonah Lomu Rugby hits the shelves again, it could give the rugby video game market the kick it needs to start an eSports tournament. A gambling market will be constructed around it to give it even more excitement, the likes of which we have already seen with the NFL, NBA, and Fortnite.
We lost a sporting giant when Jonah passed away in 2015, and his legacy will live on for 100 years, probably more. For video gamers, perhaps those who aren’t as bigger rugby fans, they’ll also have fond memories of Lomu’s legacy in the video game world. For those who can’t remember that far back, it was an entertaining retro game that sold exceptionally well and still has plenty of rugby fans holding it in the highest regard, even over 25 years later. It had everything you could want from a rugby game, and although it might not seem like it now compared to today’s games, the graphics and gameplay were revolutionary.
The fact that Jonah Lomu Rugby still holds up so well despite all of these advances shows how great a rugby game was. If this game came out in today’s market, where people can bet on the outcome of tournaments and play each other online from all over the globe, you’d expect it would have a flourishing eSports tournament to complement it. Many rugby games have been and gone since, but this one has stood the test of time.
Considering it’s 2023, Rugby 06 is also a retro game in today’s market. As one of the top games in rugby, it was only fitting that a game of quality and magnitude complimented the extraordinary scenes we witnessed in rugby league just a couple of years later.
Rugby 06 wasn’t as groundbreaking as Jonah Lomu Rugby, but it has a lot better graphics and gameplay, mainly because a decade separates the two release dates. Rugby 06 came on leaps and bounds, featuring the top games and stadiums and some of the finest players in the world at that time, such as Brian O’Driscoll, who has remained a big name, giving some candid interviews post-retirement.
While it might not sound like a big deal now, it was the first rugby game with a combination of multiple stadiums, multiple licensed players, team banners, and a broader range of weather conditions, which no rugby game had previously. Similarly to Jonah Lomu Rugby, you had to experience it at the time to realize just how groundbreaking it was and how highly rated it was by video game critics and casual fans.
We’d say that Jonah Lomu Rugby was so far ahead of any other rugby game in the 1990s that it still maintains its place as the greatest rugby game ever. It is fitting that it bears the legend’s name, whose death sent shockwaves worldwide in 2015. If you’re a Gen Z, you might play Jonah Lomu Rugby and think that it is dated, and if you’re used to the sophisticated graphics in today’s sports games, then you wouldn’t be wrong for saying that.
However, as we have already reiterated, the true quality of Jonah Lomu Rugby stemmed from how groundbreaking it was at the time, and this is reflected in how highly revered it was at the time. Multiple gaming critics and rugby fans stated that this game was the best made, and this isn’t an accolade that has been given to any rugby games that we can think of since.
Rugby 06 is a solid game, and other rugby games are a lot of fun too. Some of the games released in this decade are also worthy, given how good the graphics are these days, but for a rugby game to beat the cultural impact of Jonah Lomu Rugby, we’ll be waiting a long time.