Every four years, Rugby fans are treated to a spectacle of what’s meant to be the pinnacle of the sport - the Rugby World Cup. The best teams from across the globe gather to play against each other in grueling matches, hoping to claw their way to the top and prove, for at least four years, that they are the best around. Taking place in France right now (until the end of October), this is amazing to watch on its own; this year's Fantasy Rugby is proving to be a bigger draw than some of the matches.
Fantasy Rugby is similar to many other sports fantasy leagues, such as Fantasy Premier League for football. You create a team composed of various players who have been picked to play in the current Rugby World Cup and who will score you points based on how they play in each real-world match. You can change your team with unlimited transfers before the start of each round (weekend matches), so the combinations and possibilities for players are almost endless.
However, there are some crucial rules and limitations to work within. First off, you can only have a maximum of three players per country; this encourages people to look further than just the top rugby nations and find some underrated, hidden gems. You also have a budget of £100 million to spend on gathering all 15 players; with each team member costing anywhere from £2.5 million to £13 million, you’ll have to spend your budget wisely. Then there is a detailed scoring system, which means you’ll have to be hyperaware of exactly how your players score points.
The best around
With four of my family members joining in with Fantasy Rugby this year, family dinners have become much more combative since this Rugby World Cup began. As we’re all pretty spread out now with busy schedules, I thought it’d be nice to create a family and friends Fantasy Rugby World Cup league for everyone to compete in as a way of keeping in touch and having something to laugh about. Unfortunately, it seems as if I’m the only one laughing now.
What started as a fun family game of gathering a team of our favorite rugby players from across various nations to compete for the top spot in the league has now been derailed into secret alliances, backstabbing, and of course, some good old-fashioned familial distrust. Only last night, I found out over dinner that my mother and brother had entered into an alliance to take me down from the top spot - snakes don't hiss; they team up against you in Fantasy Rugby. Fortunately, this alliance was short-lived after my brother raced up the table thanks to triple-captaining (a boost which triples whatever the player scores) French winger Damian Penaud before the latter’s game against minnows Namibia.
Unfortunately for them, no amount of scheming can knock me off the top spot. Thanks to some stellar work from Penaud, as well as Irish center Bundee Aki, South Africa’s Makazole Mapimpi, and Fijian winger Semi Radradra, I’m sitting pretty at the top with a gap of more than 200 points between me and second place.
Even with all the secret alliances and foiled plans, entering into a game of Fantasy Rugby with friends and family has been an enlightening experience that has provided us with some incredibly entertaining and memorable experiences. One such moment was my brother screaming in horror as French front row Uini Atonio went off before the 60-minute mark, meaning he wouldn’t be scoring an extra point.
Best year ever
My tactics aren’t groundbreaking, but I have made the most of every high-scoring match by filling my teams with superstars and also picking some criminally underrated players. It’s been great to see smaller teams like Portugal make a name for themselves, with players like Nicolas Martins scoring some impressive points that rival some of the best second-row players vying for points in the scrum.
Thanks to the breadth and depth of skilled teams coming to the tournament this year, it’s easier than ever to climb to the top of your Fantasy Rugby league and leave your family and friends in the dust - something you then won’t let them forget. You no longer have to rely on New Zealand, South Africa, or France to bulk up your points (although it does help), as teams like Japan, Italy, and Georgia have put in some seriously heroic shifts in the face of menacing tier one nations who rank towards the top of the global standings.
However, you don’t have to be dripping in Rugby knowledge to enjoy this fantasy team-building game. Thanks to mountains of stats in the fantasy game, you can pick your dream team based solely on percentages and points scored and still do pretty well. While a certain amount of nuance is needed to top the charts, as long as you keep an eye on which teams are playing, and which players are likely to start or be rested, you should be able to crush your friends and family with your newfound knowledge.
If Fantasy Rugby has got you itching for more nail-biting sporting experiences be sure to check out these best football games to play on PC.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.