Rugby gaming really started when Jonah Lomu Rugby was released in 1996. Before then there had been other attempts, but Jonah Lomu Rugby was the first widely known game. It was developed by Rage, who have partly reformed as Swordfish now. A lot of people think that this game is one of the best rugby games ever, even now.
It was four years until another rugby game was released, EA Sports Rugby 2001. Developed by Creative Assembly, it had the makings of a good game. While it didn't come with any editing software, it was quickly edited, with many patches coming out from Dom's Super 12, to my Seven's patch.
Three years later, 2003 brought out one of the best years in terms of quantity of rugby games. The somewhat disappointing EA Sports Rugby 2004 came out in September, and that was quickly followed by the announcement of Swordfish's World Championship Rugby. In December, after traditional rugby/league gaming delays, the highly anticipated Rugby League game made by New Zealand company Sidhe came out. Both Rugby 2004 and Rugby League had great sales results, with Rugby 2004 selling over half a million units, and Rugby League breaking the record for most pre-orders at a single store.
So far, 2004 has seen the release of World Championship Rugby, Pro Rugby Manager 2004, the announcement of Pro Rugby Manager 2005, and unofficial announcements EA Sports Rugby 2005, and WCR2.