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New Rugby Game Kicks Off

A new rugby game with a difference hits the market this week.

The New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU) has entered into a licensing agreement with leading game software developer, Electronic Arts (EA), which will take rugby to new audiences in over 10 countries spanning Europe, the United States, South Africa and Australia.

In a first for the union, the NZRFU has teamed up EA in developing the ultimate rugby console game.

Under the licensing agreement with EA the NZRFU has provided specific performance statistics and information on individual players as well as rights to reproduce uniforms and logos.

These statistics have been incorporated into EA Sports Rugby and adapted for the state of the art PlayStation 2 gaming system.

""EA Sports Rugby appeals to the die hard fans of all ages who can play the game as well as a whole new audience of people who enjoy the challenge of sports based computer games. Regardless of who the audience is, it also lets you get closer to the players and the action. The opportunities are endless," says NZRFU Commercial General Manager, Trevor McKewen.

"We are, and I'm sure rugby players and purists will be, impressed by the level of accuracy and commitment to detail displayed in the game."

This level of detail means, for example, the likelihood of an inside back finding his mark with a long skip pass is greater than that of a tight forward.

Speed, strength, agility, power and all the other attributes that rugby players have to varying degrees have been correlated and assigned accordingly to the All Black players' electronic equivalents.

Combined with these are the individual's technical abilities in specific areas like lineout jumping, passing and kicking.

The level of detail extends beyond the playing field to the 25 faithfully modeled international stadiums.

Commentary is, of course, from Scottish rugby commentating legend Bill McLaren.

The result is a simulated version of the game which gets you as close as you can expect to get to playing without pulling on your boots.

"I think what makes EA Sports Rugby different is that it's been designed by guys who have played the game and know what makes it unique," says Mike Wynands, General Manager of Electronic Arts New Zealand.

"Kiwis know their rugby and the last thing we wanted was to have someone playing EA Sports Rugby and thinking 'there's no way that would happen in a real game'."

Others providing strictly licensed content include the Australian, South African, French, English and Scottish Rugby Unions.

Players of EA Sports Rugby will be able to compete in major tournaments including the Philip's Tri-Nations, Bledisloe Cup, Six Nations and a World Championship from which over 600 international players from 25 teams can be selected.

To be competitive, the right team for the conditions and opposition will have to be selected and the right game plan executed.

The 'real game' simulation extends to tactical substitutions, injuries to players from falling awkwardly or getting isolated, and players being sent off for disciplinary indiscretions.

The only major difference from the real game is that the referee is always right!

Well, 99% of the time anyway.

The game, which officially launched on Friday 8 June, features All Blacks Christian Cullen, Tana Umaga and Anton Oliver on its cover and will available from all major software retailers.

Ends

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