Guide to Betting on Rugby Union

Guide to Betting on Rugby Union

Despite originating at roughly the same time as football - back in the Public Schools of early 19th Century England- Rugby Union hasn’t managed to keep pace with its round ball counterpart in the popularity stakes – but few sports have. Nevertheless, now in the 21st Century, Rugby Union continues to captivate the imaginations of sports fans around the world, via its combination of skill, brute force physicality and team ethic.

Rugby Union games invariably provide a thrilling spectacle, particularly at the biggest and best events. In common with other sporting pursuits, many are keen to enhance the excitement with a bet or two. Only too willing to oblige, our good friends, the bookmakers, provide a wide range of markets on the latest action. Here, we take a closer look at the world of Rugby Union betting, including information on the biggest events, markets available, and the key factors to consider.

The Basics

First things first, for those completely unfamiliar with the sport, let’s run through how the game works. Rugby Union is a team sport played between two sides of 15 players, split into eight forwards and seven backs. Counterintuitively, the forwards tend to be the larger and more physical players involved in rucks, scrums, and mauls, whereas the backs are the nimble fleet-of-foot players who do most of the scoring. Each Rugby Union match consists of two 40-minute halves, with a 10-minute half-time interval. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but how do they get those points on the scoreboard?

Rugby Union Scoring System

  • Try – 5 Points - Awarded for touching the ball to the ground in the opponent's in-goal area.
  • Conversion – 2 Points - After scoring a try, a team will be granted the chance to earn 2 additional points by kicking the ball through the goalposts from a grounded position.
  • Penalty – 3 Points - Awarded following a foul. This again involves kicking a grounded ball through the goalposts.
  • Drop Goal – 3 Points - This involves dropping the ball into the air and then volleying it through the goalposts
  • Penalty Try – 7 Points - Can be awarded if a foul is deemed to have prevented a certain try. A penalty try immediately awards 7 points, with no need to kick the conversion.

Most Rugby events award 4 points for a win and 2 points for a draw, in addition to 1 Bonus Point for scoring four or more tries or for losing the game by 7 points or less.

Biggest Rugby Union Betting Events

Club Rugby

  • Gallagher Premiership - The top flight of the English Club Game
  • The French Championship - Considered by many to be the elite league in the European game.
  • Champions Cup - A competition that pits the best of the best from the European game against one another – effectively Rugby Union’s equivalent of the Champions League
  • Challenge Cup - Europe’s second-tier competition – equivalent to the Europa League
  • Super Rugby - Club competition featuring teams from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Pacific Islands

International Rugby

  • Rugby World Cup - The biggest and best tournament on the planet, seeing 20 nations battle through Group and knockout stages in pursuit of the famous trophy. Like the football version, the Rugby World Cup takes place every four years.
  • Six Nations Championship - Annual event featuring England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy
  • The Rugby Championship - An annual event featuring Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Argentina

Most Popular Betting Markets

  • Match Result - Betting on the outcome of the game (win, lose, draw)
  • Handicap Betting - Betting on a market where the weaker of the two sides receives a virtual head start. E.g., New Zealand -10 vs. England +10. A handicap bet on New Zealand would win if they won by more than 10 Points. A handicap bet on England would win if they either won the game or lost by less than 10 Points.
  • Total Points - Betting on the total number of points in the game. This will usually be an over or under bet, e.g. Over or Under 45.5 points.
  • Winning Margin - Predicting how many points a team will win by. Options will usually be in Groups of 5-point intervals. E.g., New Zealand to win by 1-5 points, 6-10 points, 11-15 points etc.
  • First Try Scorer - Predicting the player who will score the first try
  • Half-Time/Full-Time Result - Predicting who will be winning at half-time and what the result will be at the end of the match – also known as Double Result betting.
  • In-Play Betting - Betting on the live action as the game unfolds.
  • Outright Betting - Predicting which team will win a specific tournament or league

Rugby Union Betting: Key Factors

As with all sports, you will increase your chances of earning a positive return if you put in a little homework before placing your bet. When weighing up the latest Rugby Union match or tournament, the following are all worth factoring into your calculations:

  • Home Advantage - True for football, and true for Rugby Union – teams simply perform better in the familiarity of their home stadium in front of their own fans.
  • Injuries and Suspensions - Many Rugby Union teams will have one or two players who are pivotal to their overall performance, with particular positions to note, including Scrum Half, Fly Half, and Hooker. Always take the time to ensure that the key men are in the side before placing your bet.
  • Form - Study the recent results of the sides and the historical head-to-head match ups, placing more emphasis on the former.
  • Consider Playing Styles - Successful Rugby teams come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from bulldozing sides who rely on a defensive kicking game to more expansive outfits who like to shift the ball quickly through their backs. Envisaging how styles may mesh can often pinpoint a useful betting angle. In general, the bulldozing style = fewer points, and the expansive style = more points.
  • Remember the Weather - This can be one of the key factors ahead of any game. Wet and muddy conditions will tend to favour sides who rely on strong forward play rather than slick passing outfits. Scoring is also more difficult in the wind and rain, which is worth bearing in mind when considering a Total Points Bet.

In addition to the above, it is also important to stick to solid general betting principles when betting on Rugby Union:

  • Shop around for the best price -
  • Bet with the head not the heart -
  • Sensible bankroll management I.e. don’t bet an amount that makes you uncomfortable.

More Betting Guides:

A Guide to Hedging your Bets

F1 Betting Guide

A Guide to Betting on Snooker

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