I had a great time this afternoon down at Locksley's having a right good laugh on Rugby 2008. I'm not the biggest fan of EA and their games but I actually did enjoy Rugby 2006 and I am still playing it at the moment. However, come July, that will be on the scrapheap, because Rugby 2008 is in town and it's very, very good. I have deliberately avoided much of the stuff that's been posted because I wanted to form my own opinion without any sort of bias for or against anything, and I am very, very impressed with what I played. I played 5 matches. I got walloped in 4 and dramatically won my last match with some late, late antics, but more on that later. I jumped straight into things with a game as South Africa against Ireland. The first thing I noticed that was different was the kick off angle. You can see lots more of the pitch and if you aim your kick well enough you can get the ball into touch with a bounce or two. However, if you kick straight to a man you will get punished a lot more than you would on Rugby 06 The next, and I think possibly the biggest thing on my list, was the sheer size of the pitch. It's HUGE. Unlike Rugby 06 when one good kick would get you from your 22 to your opponents, not this time. Only good kickers like Wilkinson and Carter are going to make the big yards. The kicks are huge from those guys, but still... the pitch is huge. That's not to say that you can't go full length because you can. I have seen plenty of full backs get burnt off by the pace of a searing winger (Habana, Robinson) but I have also seen the full back make a great last ditch tackle and turn the ball over. I had to do that lots actually, because I was getting pasted. I'm not the best at Rugby 06 and I got showed up in the main today.Many of my breaks came from grubbers, taking me past the line before doing the same to the full back and cutting inside to go under the sticks. It feels great, doesn't it? Another thing that impressed me hugely is the way that players now rampage onto your passes. This hasn't been noticable in the past, but it certainly is now. No hanging back, players move onto the ball, looking to make the yards. And if you execute the right set move and time your pass to perfection, you will bust through the gap. It's great to watch and it's great to see. BOOM! Straight through. It of course helps if you put a pace merchant through one of these gaps. For example, in one game Locks went trough a gap and it was Martin Corry, who was tackled easily. Later that match, it was Tait who went through and the set move directly lead to a try. It was very realistic to watch. I like the new scrum system. The camera angle changes to a side view and you can see the way the scrum is going to go and you can actually hook the ball. I like it. Scrums can be moved about a lot - in my last match (my only win) I won a scrum against the head and moved it 12 yards or so. Think England 2003. I was France in that match as my tenures with South Africa were disastrous. As always, multi player is great fun. I got biffed 4 times out of 4 although I always challenged for the first half and in my last game, it looked like I was going to end up winless. But I didn't. Despite trailing to Ireland 28-7 I came storming back to win 35-28. At 21-28 down I caused uproar by passing the ball behind the line to get me closer to the sticks (I was poor at the goalkicking) but I always do this in Rugby 06. I got myself level and suddenly after a knock on by O'Gara I put myself in at the corner, again repeating the trick of passing behind the line for the easy conversion. At the time I had no idea it was past 80 minutes as it wouldn't have mattered anyway, I thought there was time to play. It feels great to do that against a fellow player, but that sort of comeback would be great against the computer as well to be fair. And it's a great game to play. Easily the best Rugby game out there at the moment. Can we not stop the silly turnover things, take 2 players out from each team, stop competetive scrums and call this a league game please? I will answer any questions as best I can but please note I didn't play against the AI.