Rugby is sport that makes steady tracks in the betting industry. It’s probably fair to say that it doesn’t get the exposure of sports such as football or horse racing, but you will find that most of the top bookmakers offer up more than comprehensive betting markets.

What rugby does have going for it is the fact that it has two disciplines in rugby union and rugby league. Depending where you are in the world will likely give a good indication as to which discipline is going to be favourite. For example, in the UK rugby union is played throughout the country, but the majority of fans will be based in the Sothern most parts on England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Northern England have a huge heritage to Rugby League and it’s here where a lot of the games are played such as Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The same runs true around the world, with Australia having a great support of both league and union, but in comparison the majority of bettors in countries such as New Zealand will likely being more inclined to bet on union, rather than league.

What we will say is that both disciplines are pretty equal in the converge with most bookmakers. It’s only when you get to the smaller bookmakers where you are likely going to see more of a lean towards union than league, just because union is played on a much wider scale, so easier to bookkeep.

Forms of rugby

Rugby union

Rugby union is played with 15 players and makes up a huge percentage of the online betting sector for rugby. The games on offer are plentiful and if you are looking for more in-depth range of markets, then it’s going to union that you should look to consider.

The union format of the game is often referred to as the more skilful of the two disciplines, with range of player sizes between forwards and backs being quite substantial. The games format allows for a more flowing match and in turn is often a little bit more exciting for that of the neutral.

The betting side of the union game generally gives up a great range of markets to bet on, of which we will talk about more later in this article. The increased number of bookmakers for these types of matches means that as a punter you are going to be getting a much wider range of markets to bet on. Not only that, but increased competition amongst bookmakers means that you will have the ability to shop around for the best offers and promotions from each one.

Rugby league

There’s little argument that in terms of betting rugby league doesn’t get the same following as that of rugby union. It’s just not played in as many countries as union and often the depth of each league will vary massively.

The southern hemisphere game is probably the biggest in the world, with competitions such as the Super 14 being one of the richest and most competitive in the world. But, league such as the Super League in the UK is a growing one, especially in the betting industry with more matches being covered and more importantly, an increases of markets to bet on with each match.

The league format of the game is generally thought of to be a more brutal version of union, with the 13 man teams made of players of very similar size and stature throughout. Players are thought of to be a little fitter on the whole and also that bit stronger, although this doesn’t occur for all players.

In terms of betting, it’s fair to say that rugby league is still an emerging sport, especially when you compare it to union. But, it’s a sport that is well covered by most top bookmakers, so the betting opportunities are there at the minute, and something that is definitely on the increase.

Major tournaments

Six nations

The Six Nations is a union tournament that is played between 6 northern hemisphere nations; England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy. It’s been running since 1883 when it was known as the Home Nations, then in 1910 they added France into the mix to make it the Five Nations. In 2000 the tournament added in Italy, which now represents the Six Nations as we know it today.

The tournament is played annually and will require each team to play each other once. They alternate each year whether the team will play at home or away. For example, if one year England play Scotland at home, the next they will play them away and so on for the rest of the teams. Two points will be awarded for a win, with 1 point for a draw and obviously no points if you get beat. If two or more teams are tied at the top at the end of the tournament then the team with the best points difference will be crowned the winner.

There are a number of different trophies and awards to play for throughout each Six Nations tournament, with the most prestigious being that of the Grand Slam. The Grand Slam is where one team will win all of the 5 matches that they play on their way to winning the whole thing. Next up we have the Triple Crown, which is contested by England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (original home nations). This can only be won if one country beats the other three. If this doesn’t occur, then the trophy wont be awarded that year.

On top of that we have the Calcutta Cup between England and Scotland, The Centenary Quiach between Scotland and Ireland, Giuseppe Garibaldi between France and Italy, and the Millennium trophy between England and Ireland.

England is the most successful country to have played the event with 27 wins in total to that of Wales’ 26 wins. In terms of Six Nations wins however, England have 5 wins, France also have 5 and Wales have 4, with Ireland on 3. England have also completed the most Grand Slam victories with 13 in total, to Wales’ 11.

Rugby World Cup

The World Cup is the absolute pinnacle in international rugby and takes place every four years. The time of year that the World Cup can often change, but it’s usually around the September/October mark, depending on where in the world it is held. The trophy on offer is famously called the Web Ellis Cup, and this has been awarded to the winning team since the tournament was introduced in 1987.

The World Cup is actually one of the youngest cup competitions in rugby, funnily enough. But, there is little doubt that these days it’s crowing glory to any players career to just represent their country in a World Cup, let alone win one.

The tournament is played out as a group stage and then moves into a knockout stage. The countries are allocated to each group via a draw, but some teams will be seeded meaning that they will be separated in that draw. There are four groups in total, with 5 teams being in each group. The top 2 teams from each group will progress to the knockout stage and work their way through to final. There will also be a ‘Bronze final’ played between the two losers of the semi-final to determine the 3rd place finishers.

There are only 4 countries to have ever won the Rugby World Cup, which are New Zealand (3), Australia (2), South Africa (2) and England (1). Jonny Wilkinson of England has the record for the most points in a career with 277 in total. Jason Leonard holds the record for the most caps representing England 22 times between 1991 and 2003.

Super League

The Super League is the biggest rugby league club completion in Europe and has amassed a huge following of fans since the leagues introduction in 1996. Currently there are 12 teams that make up the league, with 11 being from England and 1 being from France. It has been reported that the league are set to expand again in 2017/18 season, introducing two more teams, possibly from outside of the UK again.

The League takes place between February and July, making it a very short league considering that each team plays each other twice in the league. Upon completion of the season, the top 8 teams in the league will play off in the Super 8 stage, where essentially the competition turns from a league into a knockout stage. They work their way through before eventually getting to the Grand final, which will determine the winners of the league that season, this usually takes pace at either Wembley Stadium, Twickenham or Old Trafford.

Leeds Rhinos are the most successful team in the competition winning on 7 separate occasions since 2004. They are closely followed by St Helens with 6 wins, Bradford Bulls with 4 and then Wigan Warriors with 3. Interestingly, no other team other than these 4 have managed to win a Super League Grand final. Kevin Sinfield has made more appearances than any other player 521 in a career spanning 18 years, he is also the highest points scorer of all time with 3,204, almost 700 more than second place Andrew Farrell.

Rugby bets

Match result

As with most sports, the match result is always going to be the most popular market to bet on when it comes to betting on rugby. The match result is basically stating if you want to back a home win, away win or a draw.

With these types of markets it’s always going to be advantageous to do some solid research before placing your bets. You will need to first look at the form of each team and then see which are performing well and which aren’t. With rugby, there will likely be a fairly even balance between the top teams especially, as it’s rare fore one or even two teams to run away with a league. So, even when you are backing the favourite in the game, these guys are still likely to yield a fair amount of value, making them good bets.

Bear in mind that this relates to both league and union bets, although with rugby league you will tend to find a much larger gap between the best and worst teams then you would with union.

Points spread

Spread betting in rugby is one of the most popular types of bets. The concept is to predict to the total number of points scored by each team and then the accumulative total. The spread may be something along the lines of 40 points and under or 41 points and over. At the end of the game you will add scores together to get the spread.

For these types of bets you don’t really need to look at form so much, but you do need to look at the number of points that they both score and concede. If you have two teams that are great defensively but are poor offensively, then you should be looking at the under bet. Conversely, if you find teams that are great offensively but poor defensively then you should be looking at the over bet. It’s also worth noting the starting line-ups for each team and highlighting if key players are missing/present for each team as this can often have a huge impact on how a game might pan out.

Handicap betting

A handicap bet in rugby is where you will be able to either add or subtract points from the final score to create a new handicapped score. It can happen in a couple of different ways; the first is where the bookmaker might state that one team will be given +9.5 points and the other given -9.5 points with that bet being an even money bet on each result. Alternatively, you can work your way to increase or decrease the handicap amount thus changing the odds as you do so. For example, the same even money bet at +9.5 points for one team could be increased to +15 points, making it an odds on favourite.

Handicap betting is arguably the market that has the most amount of ‘feel’ involved with it in terms of what you think will be a competitive line set. You need to decipher if you think a game will be close or not first and foremost. If you think it will and the handicap for one team seems large, then it’s likely going to be a good bet to take. It you think the handicap seems small then it’s likely worth missing this one.

Total points

The total points market will require you to predict the total number of cumulative points scored in one match. Because score can often be fairly hefty in rugby, to guess the actually number would be very, very tough – although we don’t doubt that there will be a market for this – but, instead you will be given a certain bracket for the total points.

For example, you may be able to bet on 0-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40 and so on. It’s another fairly tough market to call in terms of strategy, but we think the best way you go about this is by seeing how each team has performed in previous games. If teams are scoring freely then you need to looking at the larger points brackets and if teams are struggling to score then you need to be looking at the lower brackets.

Team to score first/ first scoring method

You are able to bet on which team you think will have the first scoring play of the match. This can be at any time and can be via any method of play, so a try, penalty or drop goal, will all count. As an alternative to this market, you can outright select which will be the first scoring play of the match from the same possible results (try/drop goal/penalty).

Betting rules

The first thing we will highlight before we get into betting rules for rugby is that the majority of rules will carry over into both union and league formats. The rules aren’t set in stone though and may vary for each bookmaker. If you have a specific question on a topic that you don’t think we have covered or simply want to know what certain bookmakers take on that bet is, then we recommend that you get in touch with your bookmaker to find out a definitive answer.

Match bets

It’s actually possible for a rugby match to go on much longer than the 80 minutes that is originally set out. Play cannot be stopped after the 80 minutes until the ball becomes dead, which means that it resumes as normal until this happens. Any match bets that have been placed will included this added on time in both the first half and the second half. In fact, all rugby bets will adhere to this rule, unless a game has been stated as including extra time to decide a winner where necessary.

Abandoned/ postponed games

If a game gets abandoned after it has started then all bets that have been settled before that point will stand. All bets that have not been settled become void and your stake will be returned. If the game has been postponed prior to the start of the match then as long as it’s replayed within 7 days all bets will carry over into that rearranged game. If a game is not replayed within that time period then your bet will get refunded.

First/last try scorer

If a player fails to take the field then all first/ last try scorer bets will be void for that player and bets will be returned. If a player takes the field after the first try has been scored then first try scorer bets will be void, but last will still remain. If a player takes the field before the first try then all bets will remain. If the first try scored is a penalty try then the market will shift to that of the second try to determine the result.

Man of the match

Sometimes in games there fails to be an announcement on the man of the match. SO if no official announcement is made either after the game on the official website for that game, then this market will become void and all bets returned.