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My Review of Rugby 2006 - Locksley




Ok, After spending several days playing Rugby 2006, and keeping some of you waiting a little longer than anticipated, here’s my honest, unbiased opinion.

Firstly, let’s get the controls out of the way (PS2).


LEFT ANALOG â€" Move Player
RIGHT ANALOG â€" Step left-right/Fend/Charge
L1 - Pass left. Hold to miss pass
R1 â€" Pass right. Hold to miss pass
R2 â€" Sprint
X â€" Punt
[] â€" Bomb
O â€" Drop Goal
/\ - Grubber kick


LEFT ANALOG â€" Move Player â€" Run into player to tackle
D Pad left/right/up/down â€" Set defence
X â€" Dive tackle
R2 â€"Sprint
L2 â€" Change player
R1 â€" Head high tackle


X â€" Bind Players
L1 â€" Pass left to a back
L2 â€" Pass Left to a forward
R1 â€" Pass Right to a back
R2 â€"Pass right to a forward
[] â€" Pick up and run left
O â€"Pick up and run right
/\ - Kick from back of ruck
D Pad left/right/up/down â€" Initiate set play
R3 â€"Hand in the ruck

Lineouts & Scrums are exactly the same as Rugby 2005, with the only changes being the choice of a quick tap/lineout when they occur. If you wish to do a quick tap, your player must get the ball from touch and you’ll be prompted to press [] to throw in.


Rugby 2006 is the game Rugby 2005 should have been. In fact, when you first play 06 you’ll think that you’ve booted up last years version, albeit with a slower pace and polished graphics. However, after a few minutes play, Rugby 2005 veterans will soon be lapping up the changes made, and enjoying the game immensely.

Firstly, the overall look of the game has changed slightly. The players are much more detailed now, and the animations flow into one another rather than stop, start, stop with the game out of your control. Occasionally, say, when you’re putting the ball down over the tryline as you’re being tackled, the player will jump back up again and ground the ball in a different place. But overall, Rugby 2006 is a huge improvement from its older brother, and easily the most realistic looking rugby game to date.

HB Studios have tidied up plenty of issues, and have eradicated almost every flaw from Rugby 2005. Passes from the ruck that went to ground, the steps/fends etc not working properly, animation glitches, slow unresponsive set plays etc have all been fixed. Granted there are still some bad things in there, such as too many players chasing the ball carrier and the fact that defence is sometimes a touch to easy to get through if you run diagonally, but I’ll get onto that later.

Not being a rugby union fan myself, I’m not concerned with detailed rucks and scrums etc, I just want good, responsive gameplay that’s enjoyable. To me, Rugby 2006 is just that. If you’re one of those Rugby Union nuts who want to have complete manual control of rucks, then you’re going to be disappointed again. Automatic rucks are back in, but this time it’s all too easy to initiate a set play only to have a turn over just as it’s ready to go. So, by adding men at strategic points, you can stop this, but they’re still mostly automatic. If you hated Rugby 2005 with a passion, then it’s fair to say that you won’t like this years version at all. If you liked Rugby 2005, but found it spoiled by bugs and flaws, then there’s a good chance you’ll really enjoy this. If, however, you loved Rugby 2005, then the perfect rugby game for you has arrived.

There’s an abundance of competitions and leagues to compete in, along with a detailed player creator. Again, it’s basically the same as Rugby 2005 in this area. One thing that a few people won’t like is that fact that you still can’t play against the Lions on the Lions tour… A silly oversight by HB there, but due to the fact that the AI is pretty damn good on the medium difficulty level, (Forget easy, it’s just too damn easy) there’s plenty for the single player to enjoy well into the early hours. Multiplayer games, however, will have you playing for days without stopping. Honestly, just watching 2 same-skilled players competing in a match is fantastic. Playing it is even better.

One neat addition that’s been added is the “run onto the ball†move. When you’re about to pass the ball to a back, (L1/R1) push up on the analog stick and the receiver will make his run before catching the ball. This is great if you have a big center who has “crash ball†as a speciality, especially after working hard to get field position and using this to bust over the line. Now the bad news with that move, is that for some strange reason, you can only do it in second half????? Why??? Surely that’s a bug that was missed and needs fixing.

This brings me onto the attacking play in general. I personally think that Rugby 2006 has given me the most rewarding Rugby experience from any Rugby game. The pace of the game seems slower than Rugby 2005, but feels right. The sheer variety of ways you can make ground is superb. You can time a darting run with a nippy half back through the middle, grind your way up field using shoulder charges with forwards, pass out wide and step wingers, run 100 metres with an interception etc and it all feels tremendously satisfying. The Right analog stick moves all work this time round. Time it right, and you’ll turn the defence inside out. Even better, is the fact that you can combine them one after the other, especially with star players to great effect. An example is a try I scored with Brian O Driscoll. I ran onto the ball from a ruck 65 metres out, fended one player off, sprinted away, avoided 2 ankle taps, before lining the full back up and stepping him, making a real monkey of him. Honestly, it was brilliant. And it was ALL under my control. New for 2006 is the Offload system… and it works, if you time it right. I’ll not explain here, cos’ you’ve all seen the offload vid by now. But I’ve pretty much mastered the offloading now, and love the system.

Defending is equally rewarding. It’s far, far better to just run into the player to make a tackle than it is to dive tackle. If you are in need to make a dive tackle though, make sure you’re 100% certain you’ll make the tackle otherwise you’ll just land on your face. The addition of an illegal high tackle button is very satisfying indeed. You can almost feel the pain yourself as the high shot connects, due to the animation and sound effects being used to perfection. If used sparingly enough, you may get away with a couple of high shots, forcing turnovers and swinging momentum your way. It’s more than likely that the referee will see them though and issue a warning or yellow/red card. I really enjoyed using the high tackle button when I was losing to a human opponent, with no way back into the match. The smile on my face after rattling his star player, forcing him to be taken from the field was a picture!

Probably the worse aspect of Rugby 2005 was the abysmal kicking physics. If this had been the same in 2006 it would’ve been a real shame. Thankfully, HB have pulled out all the stops and come up with the most sublime kicking physics in a rugby game. No longer can you punt 2 yards from a penalty. If you have a good kicker, you can make 50, 60 metres with a well-judged kick. The bounce of the ball is very realistic this time around too. Occasionally, there is the odd pea roller that bounces and gently rolls it’s way towards touch, but on the whole, Rugby 2006 has a kicking system that can’t be beaten. I never used to kick at all in Rugby 2005, but due to the massive improvement this time, I use the kick buttons much more now. You can actually pin point a punt downfield and land the ball in the in goal area forcing pressure, as well as successfully score tries from Bombs and grubber kicks.

Rugby 2006 is a game that rewards players for spending time on it. At first, Novices will be pressing X and diving all over the show, but give it time and you’ll be patient when defending, timing crucial dive tackles to perfection, and pulling off set plays will be second nature.

The way the game’s presented also feels like you’re watching sky sports live. If there’s a break in play, a replay will be shown of an incident earlier in the match, such as a crunching tackle, or well timed sidestep and the commentators will refer to it as the action is replayed. No matter what it was showing, not once did I feel the urge to press X and skip them. (Although you can if you want to)

There really isn’t much more to say to be honest. Knowsley will back me up on this, but it really is Rugby 2005 all over again, but tweaked to perfection with added features such as the Star players etc. Things that didn’t work in 2005, now work perfectly here.

There are a couple of bad points I feel I should touch up on before I finish. One of them is Side stepping…. Not when you’re doing it, but when you’re defending against it. If the player successfully pulls of a sidestep at the right moment, you lose control of the player he’s stepping while they go into an animation and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. I suppose it could be argued that this rewards the attacker for timing the step to perfection, but still…

Anyway, the question you want to know is, “Is Rugby 2006 better than Rugby challenge?†The answer to that is Yes. It has something for everyone, mixes arcade action, realism and simulation together seamlessly and will satisfy those player who like, deep involving gameplay. Rugby Challenge is an arcade game. That’s the way it was written, and that’s how it’s meant to be. For quick 20 minute blasts on a rugby game, RC2006 cannot be beaten. Novices can pick it up and be playing in minutes, but for serious rugby sim fans, Rugby 2006 just goes that bit further.

To put it in perspective,. I’ll give an overall mark out of 100% for each rugby game to date from Jonah Lomu rugby.

Jonah Lomu Rugby 85%
Rugby 2001 54%
Rugby 2004 12% (L2/R2 passes at the ruck)
Rugby League 60%
World Championship Rugby 58%
Rugby 2005 68%
Rugby League 2 64%
Rugby Challenge 2006 82%
Rugby 2006 92%


Ok, I’ll sum up the good and bad points of Rugby 2006 below.

The Good

Superb responsive controls
Perfectly paced gameplay
Special moves that actually work this time
Rewards players for spending time with it
Satisfying attack play
Well thought out offload system
Lots of varied ways to score tries
Feels like real Rugby
The kicking game has drastically improved
Fatigue shows this time round â€" Players stand hunched over huffing and puffing
Quick lineouts and Quick penalties
Superb Graphics engine
Beefy Sound effects & Great Music
Loads of Single player options
Multiplayer matches could be played for Days on end
Superb AI on medium and Elite difficulty.
On Classic 2 view, The way the action Pauses while the camera spins a la Madden is a masterstroke
Set plays and Cross field kicks
Crunching tackles
High tackles (Superb)
Scoring 90 metre interception tries fending the players off as you go
The superb replay system. This won’t be beaten
Steam effects from scrums in cold weather

The Bad

Automatic Rucks (For some people)
Predictable turnovers
Defending against steps
Lots of players chasing the ball carrier (AGAIN… Doh!)
Get’s a bit chaotic when there’s lots of players together
Steep learning curve for beginners
Can’t play against the British Lions
You still can’t choose the weather
Timing Dive tackles takes some learning

So there you have it, my opinion on Rugby 2006. If I find any more good or bad points worth noting, I’ll put them up in this thread. I know one thing for sure though, this year we’re blessed with the two best rugby games to hit the market since Jonah Lomu rugby back in 1997, and I for one, can’t wait to have both in my collection

Originally posted by locksley@Jan 20 2006, 01:19 PM
I know one thing for sure though, this year we’re blessed with the two best rugby games to hit the market since Jonah Lomu rugby back in 1997, and I for one, can’t wait to have both in my collection
This all I needed to know

Brilliant stuff mate again, our annual praises towards yourself will never be enough.

Sounds like i need both games, and i will get both
I thouroughly enjoyed Rugby2005, despite its ****les, and now they are ironed out, looks like we in for the winter to remember

Same time again next year for 2007, lock it in the scedge locks.

Thanks again!
Good review, sounds promising...

But i hate the player bunching, which seems like its still there.
Sounds like a great game, looking forward to it. Could this game be what ea soccer fans expericence each year. Now us rugby meats can enjoy a good ea rugby game
I'll have to hire it first just to see if it is any good first before I decide to buy it only because of the past but it seems very good from the description. But if I like RL2 which hopefully isn't a crime on these forums
I should go nuts over this right?.
Originally posted by Radman@Jan 20 2006, 02:02 PM
I'll have to hire it first just to see if it is any good first before I decide to buy it only because of the past but it seems very good from the description. But if I like RL2 which hopefully isn't a crime on these forums
I should go nuts over this right?.
That depends really.

I'm a league man through and through, but Rl2 is all gloss and no substance. The lack of control issue on it totally rendered the game redundant for me.

Rugby 06 puts you fully in control at all times. If something went wrong, it's your fault. Wherever you move the analog stick, the player goes in that direction.

If you like your rugby games to feel like you haven't actually plugged the pad in then no, Rugby 06 won't be for you
Originally posted by mark_shaw@Jan 20 2006, 01:57 PM
locks can i ask you about the create a player mode? any imporvment?
Well it's quite in depth, but I'm pretty sure it's the same as 05 with bits added
Cheers for that locksley. Good work. Just touching on shaws question, can you edit real players in the game?
locks, can you still use the tactic of holding the ball in until your support arrives? Holding down the right thumb stick etc.
brilliant review - really good - ill defo be buying both

one question id like to know is how detailed is the create a player?
Are there chip kicks? I only had two requests after the last game- quick lineouts and chip kicks. Sounds like they've only met me halfway.
hey locks..great review..thanks

just one question..
can you give us an insight of what the world league is like in R 06...on the ea site it says that the world league is more indepth now..how is it more indepth???

Excellent review locks - pretty much answered everything I wanted to know.

Looks like this will be my rugby game of choice.
My Query is the camera issue which annoyed me in R2005. You mentioned a Classic2 camera angle, are there any others?
Originally posted by maddog79@Jan 20 2006, 04:38 PM
My Query is the camera issue which annoyed me in R2005. You mentioned a Classic2 camera angle, are there any others?

Great review Locksley, thank you. As mentioned above could you ellaborate a little on camera angles