If you’re looking for a game to get you in the mood for the upcoming Rugby World Cup and you want something that’s easy to pick up and play straight away, look no further than Rugby Kicks VR for Samsung Gear VR.

In this simple but addictive application, the player is put in the position of a kicker on the rugby field tasked with hitting a series of floating targets arranged between the posts. Points are awarded for each target hit, and more is scored depending on the difficulty of each one.  It might sound simple, but there are plenty of extras thrown in here to keep things interesting.

As well as being expected to line up shots from all angles and distances on the pitch, players will also have to master kicking in different weather conditions, just like you would if you were really out there on the pitch. It might not be immediately obvious how an increase in wind, for example, will affect the ball’s trajectory until you try a test kick, but that’s all part of the challenge.

It’s a simple idea, but the game’s not exactly easy. Each time you miss you lose a life – and you don’t get a lot of them– but these can be recouped by hitting special targets. Many of the targets are hard to hit too, which means unless you’re a natural you’ll be seeing the words ‘Game Over’ a lot. But once you’re hooked all this will do is spur you on to keep trying to better that high score. There’s another reason to keep playing too: at Mission Level 10 you can unlock a new stadium to play in. These arenas provide some nice visual backdrops as well, which certainly enhances the experience and immerses the player further.

The controls are very responsive, which is obviously crucial for a game like this. When you miss a target seemingly by millimetres and therefore want to make just the slightest of adjustments to your aim, it’s easy to do so.

What makes things a little less realistic – yet more fun it has to be said – is the ability to fire rockets at the targets, which can really rack up the points if executed well. This might not please the rugby purists, but for casual gamers that don’t take these things too seriously – it is a game after all – adding a bit of destruction into the mix is sure to raise a few smiles.

And once you’ve got the hang of smashing the straightforward static targets, the game makes things trickier by having them move, which is where you’ll need to hone your timing as well as your aim. You will also discover targets hanging outside the posts that swing inside and knock down others when struck, which can be very satisfying. So it introduces new ways to make combos at the same time as making things more challenging.

Overall, Rugby Kicks VR is an enjoyable little game that with its easy to use concept will have you coming back for more. It will appeal to fans and non-fans of rugby – a sport where professionals behind the scenes are beginning to explore the possibilities that VR presents outside gaming.

VR in the rugby real world 

The 2019 Rugby World Cup is now fast approaching, with the planet’s top international teams completing their final preparations ahead of the sport’s biggest tournament. Many different approaches to training will have been tried and tested, from the traditional to the tech-driven. And some have even experimented in the past with using VR to give players that extra edge.

For example, Gavin Vaughan, Scottish Rugby’s Lead Performance Analyst, has previously revealed his intention to build a ‘virtual reality lab’ for the players. This would enable them to respond to accurate 3D simulations of situations they would experience out on the field without having to do it for real and risk injury. Vaughan’s team would then be able to make detailed analysis of the results too.

VR is also being used to enhance fan experiences. In New Zealand, Super Rugby side The Blues has been offering ‘virtual reality tours’ that offer immersive insights into the side’s team talks and training sessions.

It seems, then, that the crossover between rugby and virtual reality goes a lot deeper than just the gaming space.