RBS 6 Nations Rugby
| RBS 6 Nations

It's hard being an English sport lover at the best of times, but this year it's particularly tough. Our football team is a bunch of overpaid numbskulls, and the only player who can score penalties is Canadian. Our cricketers have rediscovered the art of playing like startled rabbits when they hear an Aussie accent. Our best tennis player is Scottish. Oh woe.

And then there's the rugby. England are officially the World Champs, but every time they step on the field, they look more like World Chumps. To say expectations are low for the upcoming 6 Nations and World Cup tournaments is an understatement.

In that context, the thought of an official 6 Nations mobile game isn't that appealing. Then again, the chance to pretend England are still globe-straddling supermen is alluring, and of course, if you're Irish, Welsh, Scottish, French or hell, even Italian, you'll be feeling much more cheery about this rugby lark.

RBS 6 Nations Rugby is, as the name implies, the official game of the 6 Nations tournament. Sadly, the licence doesn't extend to real player names (or, indeed, made-up ones), so although you can take charge of whichever nation you like, the only difference is the colour of their shirts.

The press release (and hence our original news story) says you get to 'control the fate of your chosen fifteen', but that's misleading. This is seven-a-side rugby – we know, because we counted by doing that thing where you start at one wing of the pitch, and then pass it to every player in turn down the line to the other wing. Maybe the other eight players are having a rest on the bench.

Some thought has clearly been put into making the complex game of rugby work with the restrictions of a mobile keypad. When your player has the ball, he runs straight ahead, and you can press '4' to pass left, and '6' to pass right. '5' gives you a speed boost, while '2' kicks long and '8' kicks short. If you get caught, a ruck ensues, where you have to press '5' at the right moment to emerge with the ball.

As such, RBS 6 Nations isn't a strictly accurate simulation of rugby. This is compounded by the fact that there are no lineouts, drop goals, or indeed players able to do anything other than run straight ahead when they have the ball. You can forget your jinking wingers or slashing diagonal bursts through the line, in other words.

As for the opposition, its players seem unable to try and tackle you unless they're directly behind – they won't run across the pitch to cut you off. In fact, their tactics seem to focus purely on pinching interceptions if you make a poor pass, and then running down the field. If you're out of position, you won't catch them.

Scrums are too easy to win, the commentary is repetitive, conversions are taken from the middle of the pitch no matter where you touch down, the ball always bounces in a straight line, and our review copy had a fun bug where every so often, the players all pause and jerk about like marionettes, leaving you unable to do anything for a minute or more.

On one level, you can sympathise with the developers. Turning 15-a-side rugby into a workable mobile game is a tough call. But for even casual fans of the sport, the omissions and simplifications in RBS 6 Nations are teeth-grindingly irritating.

By the time you've won the Grand Slam (which you will do, quickly), you'll be so fed up, you won't care that you've unlocked New Zealand to play in the separate Friendly mode. RBS 6 Nations is repetitive, predictable, and extremely disappointing for rugby fans. Much like England, in fact.

RBS 6 Nations Rugby

A brave yet fatally flawed attempt to boil a complex sport down for mobile