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Monday Feb 1, 2021

Monye strikes a chord as he speaks for vast majority with video game plea

Ugo Monye’s calls for a new rugby video game have received a lot of support online. 

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Speaking on BT Sport yesterday, for whom he is a pundit, the former England winger said a new video game is a way to entice a new audience to rugby, something that is frequently discussed. 

“The one thing we have to get is a computer game. I’d love to see a computer game. Jonah Lomu Rugby from back in 1995 was excellent, if we could have that, that would be good.” 

This idea has since garnered a lot of support online as many people are aware of the influence that the video game industry has, particularly to a generation of people that rugby is trying to reach. The FIFA and Madden franchises have been repeatedly cited as two gateways into football and American football, respectively, while rugby has little or no presence in the esports industry.  

One person that was certainly aware of this was Agustín Pichot, who stressed the importance of making a new rugby game last year as he campaigned to be chairman of World Rugby. 

“Rugby’s old-fashioned in terms of technology,” he said. “I see my kids today and realise the importance of e-sports for the new generations. They play Fortnite, League of Legends, FIFA. All of the established sports markets are connected with digital games and that is a huge means of attracting a younger audience. FIFA 2020, NBA 2K20, NFL Madden.

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“Rugby hasn’t had a decent game since Jonah Lomu Rugby in 1995, so that would be part of the remit for a dedicated World Rugby innovation department. You need to think about how you approach the modern fan. Young boys and girls. It’s not rocket science.”

Both Monye and Pichot regard Jonah Lomu Rugby as the gold standard of rugby games, released almost a quarter of a century ago, although EA Sports’ Rugby 08 is often held in as high regard by fans. New games since then have failed to make the same impact as their predecessors. 

Fans have also been listing innovations from other sports that rugby must adopt in order to attract a new audience. Equivalents of football stickers, Fantasy Football and Football Manager games have all been suggested. 

There was a lot of enthusiasm amongst the rugby fandom when Pichot announced his plans last year, and Monye has stoked that fire. 

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