We catch up with Edward Kerr, founder of The Rugby Magazine, to talk Fantasy Rugby and the upcoming Super Rugby Season…
This article origianlly appeared on Fantasy Rugby Geek.
FRG: The Rugby Magazine fantasy game started in 2017, why did you start it?
EK: The game actually kicked off on the opening day of the 2016/17 season. I was waiting to pick my wife up at the station and starting looking for a fantasy game for the Premiership and couldn’t find one. Being a software developer, I decided I’d build my own.
I remember saying to my wife in the car as we pulled onto our drive, ‘this has got legs.’ Little did I know what I had started! Here we are, nearly three years down the line and things are going from strength to strength.
FRG: Give us an overview of The Rugby Magazine fantasy rugby game and what makes it different to other fantasy rugby games?
EK: One of the things that struck me very early on about other rugby fantasy, was that everyone had taken a football fantasy model and tried to apply it to rugby. Our sport is too different a beast for that to be applied with lasting success, and so I set about to design the game from the ground up.
I’ve also been a long suffering fan of the Football Manager series, and while one of my long term goals is to build a decent rugby management sim, I figured I’d start in the middle and put together a fantasy game that while accessible to the casual fan, retained the depth and engagement of something like Football Manager.
This manifested itself in a squad management system. So in our game, you choose a minimum of 28 players for your squad, and then from these players you can choose who you wish to play each week. You get one free release every gameweek, but sometimes you might need a few more, though there is a points penalty – this added another layer of strategy to the game.
There are those who spend hours a day on the game, monitoring player prices and studying the data to maximise their points at the weekend. Of course, there are those who dip in once a week to update their team, but it’s important to me that the game caters for all shapes and sizes!
FRG: Any tips for any new players who have never played The Rugby Magazine fantasy rugby before?
EK: The best one to carry into the game with you, is that the most expensive players aren’t always the most efficient. Beauden Barrett is the most costly player on our Super Rugby game, and while he scores well, there are players who offer much better value for money.
Taking the time to find these players and seeing them do well at game time is immensely rewarding. One of the key drivers in our fantasy is to ensure that the game revolves around more than just on-field events, we want it to continue to deliver enjoyment at every stage of the week.
FRG: There are some Premium features in The Rugby Magazine, what do these include?
EK: We were always keen to ensure the core game was free to play, there shouldn’t be any barriers to enjoying rugby! Beyond that though, we wanted to offer tools that would help fantasy managers get both the most out of their team, and the most out of the game.
We know afternoons in the build up to a game weekend are tight, and so we developed a traffic light system that gives you a really quick insight into who is playing for their club at game time.
We’ve also built algorithms that analyse the statistical data and deliver results in much more understandable formats; projecting player scores and fixture results; assessing the viability of a player for your team, and much more.
FRG: You’ve launched a number of new features in 2019, including an AI Bot. Tell us about Henry and any other new features rolled out in 2019?
EK: Henry is the personification of the algorithms I mentioned in the previous question. His job is to post regularly on social media with updates on stats and announcements.
He is also set up to manage a team in each of our fantasy competitions. I put this together to test the data analysis and projections within the algorithms , but also to show what impact they can have on the fortunes of your team. Super Rugby is his first proper outing so it will be interesting to see who he goes for and how he gets on!
It won’t be long until you can chat to him yourself; I’m in the process of finalising his code so that you can chat to him and get updates and advice on your team. He can suggest captains and kickers, suggest and action transfers, update you on team results, bye weeks, league tables and much more. I’m hoping he becomes a really valuable resource for the rugby community.
FRG: Any bold Predictions for the 2019 Super Rugby season?
EK: It’s hard to look beyond the Crusaders again, but I think the Hurricanes will be there or there-about. Outside that I think the Waratahs will carry some hope for Australian Rugby throughout the season.
At the other end, it’s hard to look beyond the Sunwolves and the Reds at the bottom of the table, despite the fact that everyone should have Taniela Tupou on their team!
FRG: Which players will be the first names on your teamsheet in your 2019 Super Rugby The Rugby Magazine fantasy team?
EK: Absolutely Malcolm Marx, that guy is redefining what it means to be a hooker in the modern age. Otherwise, I tend to go a bit off the wall: Guido Petti is a champ, and perhaps Brad Weber.
I start getting sensible after that and pick up Rieko Ioane and Damian McKenzie (I’ll have in the squad even though he isn’t starting at the weekend). Ben Lam and Aphiwe Dyantyi after that as they’re just such good performers.
I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
FRG: What’s coming next for The Rugby Magazine?
EK: There’s a lot in the pipeline for the future, but next up on our radar is building towards the World Cup. We’re focusing on delivering bigger and better content through the year and increasing the exposure of the fantasy platform.
I really want the Rugby Magazine to be a hub for rugby lovers across the world where you can get your rugby fix. It’s started with fantasy, but it certainly won’t end there!