Rugby Nations 16 – Crouch, touch, pause, engage!

Rugby Nations 16

Rugby games on all formats don’t have much appeal to avid followers of the sport. Although many games have seen the light of day over the years, after the initial gloss has worn off, it is inevitably left alone, never to be played again.

So will Rugby Nations 16 be any different? Well, publisher Distinctive Wireless Inc have a range of games in both IOS and Android. Together with their extensive portfolio, this is not their first Rugby Nations game.

Starting out

After an initial 400 meg download – you might want to be near a wi-fi point to do this – Rugby Nations 16 (RN for short) offers a number of options on start up. The game features various modes including friendlies as well as a career mode which can all be played for free. Should you wish to partake in any of the other game options, you will need to purchase RN for £3.99.

These paid modes include the Six Nations, Live Games, 40 various challenge mini-games and a conversion kicking game with online rankings. More about these later.

What teams are available?

As expected all the major national teams are available to play from world champions New Zealand, right down to lowly Namibia. For those who prefer club rugby, a number of different teams from club competitions around the world are available including those found in the English Premiership and Super Rugby. That said, my first gripe is that RN contains no licencing agreement, so don’t expect to be running out as the Stormers, but rather as Cape Town as all franchise teams are named after the city they originate from.

So play already!

In all probability, you will start with a friendly game to get a feel of how the controls in RN work. Well, first you have to decide how exactly you want to control your players. There are two options in this regard; on-screen buttons or screen swiping.

Rugby Nations 16

Starting out with buttons I first found them incredibly clunky. Although the tutorial tells you exactly what each button does in each scenario, they didn’t always seem to react when I tapped them. When first playing the game, it can get a little confusing as there can be up to eight buttons on the screen at any one time. For example, on attack, you have to elect to pass left or right with a button. In some instances, depending where you are on the field, a kick button might appear, while on defence, a whole range of other buttons pop up. Of course, as you play more, it becomes easier and easier to get the feel for the game, but this amount of buttons at the start might put off some people.

I then tried swiping and although this seemed far more challenging to start, I quickly got the hang of it through the excellent tutorial. Here, swiping and tapping helps you with the various parts of play such as attacking, passing, kicking and defending. In fact, as time went on, I found my level of play improved immensely using the swipe method over buttons. One other control feature that I loved was the use of the accelerometer in my phone. By tilting the screen left or right, I was able to guide my player with the ball in the direction I tilted. This worked extremely well when the player was in a little bit of space.

Options galore

So now you know the control methods, what other options can be changed in the game. Well, for starters there are three difficulty levels. After doing fairly well on the easiest level, I moved up to semi-pro only to find that the game became much harder. Although I could compete, it was very tough to get a win. I can only imagine how tough the pro level would be, but I must admit I wasn’t brave enough to try. Your control preference can be altered during a game while other options include adjusting the length of halves as well as choosing the time of day the game take place.

Game modes

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the game modes available, particularly career mode as this will appeal to many.

Six Nations  

Here you can choose a team and play a full Six Nations series.

Live Game

In this mode, you can pick a team from a game that is currently live and play along with real-time tournaments.


With over 40 on offer, RN has different challenges to keep you occupied in-between games.


Kick at poles from various angles and distance to see how many you can kick over in a streak. This features online leaderboards allowing you to see your rank against other kickers.


RN features an in-depth career mode. Not only can you pick a position for your player from any of the 15 positions found on a rugby field, but you have the chance to progress and to make your player fitter and stronger over time.  This is achieved by playing games and getting development points for winning or luckily, even losing. Although you have a player in the team, gameplay is the same in that you control all positions, not just the one you selected. My player was a winger and over time by building up his development points and assigning them, he quickly became a try scoring machine. Areas of a player’s development include speed, ability and tackling.

Rugby Nations 16

So how does it look?

Actually, RN is a great looking game. Ok, it’s not at the same level of detail as something like FIFA 16 but the players are well defined and the various stadiums, although not extremely detailed, still look nice enough. Every game starts off the traditional way, with teams lining up on the field, some fireworks and the commentators getting into their stride. Talking of commentary, it really becomes annoying very quickly, but let’s be honest most sports games struggle in this area.  You can however, turn it off in the settings should you wish to.

The verdict?

Due to a distinct lack of rugby games in all forms of gaming in general, RN will keep you interested should you be a fan of the sport and delivers a more solid performance than it’s main competitor on the mobile market Rugby League Live 2 Gold. Check out the Rugby Nations vs Rugby League Live 2 comparison here. Perhaps try it out with a few friendlies as well as a career run to see if you would like to fork out money for the full version.


  • Two control systems (button and swiping)
  • Better than average graphics
  • You can play it for free
  • A host of teams
  • Playable on a large screen mobile, but a tablet is a better gaming experience
  • Excellent tutorials
  • Annoying commentary
  • Not licenced, no real club teams or players
  • Sometimes unresponsive in both control setups