Rugby is an exciting sport that offers numerous opportunities for punters to make a profit. From straight match bets to handicap markets, first try scorers, and first scoring plays, there are various ways to capitalise on this sport. In this article, we will explore the different strategies you can employ to win money while betting on rugby.
Understanding the Formats and Tournaments
Rugby Union comprises club competitions and the more popular international games, which attract a much wider audience. Below we detail some popular formats and tournaments within the game that are bettors’ favourites.
If you are more interested in exploring options for betting on Southern Hemisphere Rugby, like Super Rugby for instance, visit rugbyunion.nz for more information. Keep in mind that the principles of betting on rugby discussed in this article apply to whichever form of the game you wish to bet on.
In the domestic game, the Aviva Premiership takes centre stage as the English top flight. It features 12 teams competing for a place in the top four, leading to an end-of-season play-off mini-tournament. The top four Aviva Premiership teams face each other in the semi-finals, with the top two earning home advantage. The winners of these matches ultimately compete at Twickenham to determine the champions.
While this may seem like an unusual way of determining the winners, the play-off format is used because certain teams, like the Leicester Tigers in recent years, have been significantly affected by players absent due to international commitments throughout the season. Unlike football, where the season pauses during international matches, rugby continues, making the end-of-season play-offs the fairest way to decide the title.
The Heineken Cup, which is likely to be replaced by a new tournament next year, is the premier European competition. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, and Italian clubs compete in pools to advance to the last-eight knockout stage.
One of the most anticipated betting events of the year is the Six Nations, which kicks off in February. Wales, the winner of the last two seasons, faces fierce competition from England, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Italy. Each nation plays one match against every opponent to determine the overall winner.
When betting on the Six Nations, it is crucial to consider the ‘home draw’ aspect. Since teams only play each other once, the generated fixtures can greatly impact the outcome. For instance, France is a significantly stronger team at their home stadium, the Stade de France, compared to when they play on the road. Therefore, the outright winner market on the Six Nations can be influenced by which games a team has at their own stadium and which matches they play away from home.
Another highly anticipated tournament is the Rugby World Cup, held every four years. The current holders, New Zealand, were strong favourites when they travelled to England for the 2015 competition.
Exploring the Most Popular Markets
When it comes to betting on rugby, several markets attract significant attention, including Match Odds, Handicap bets, Winning Margin, and First Scoring Play.
Understanding General Rules
Before diving into rugby betting, it is essential to familiarise yourself with the competition rules. Some competitions encourage a more attacking game by awarding bonus points for scoring four tries in a match. Although this does not apply to the Six Nations, both the Premiership and Heineken Cup adopt this rule and also award losing bonus points to teams beaten by seven points or less.
These bonus-point rules are significant as they affect the scoring dynamics and are particularly relevant when betting on the Winning Margin market. For example, if a team like Northampton Saints is playing against a struggling side, a larger winning margin is more likely, especially as they may be chasing a winning bonus point.
Taking Advantage of Handicap Markets
Rugby often sees matches with significant mismatches, where one team is heavily favoured. In rugby, a converted try is worth seven points, while a penalty or drop goal earns three points. Unlike football, where goals are rarer and carry greater value, scoring in rugby is more frequent. Consequently, you may encounter extremely short odds, such as England being 1.18 favourites at home against Argentina in the autumn internationals.
To avoid such odds-on shots, handicap betting is immensely popular in rugby. For instance, in the aforementioned game, England to win with a 15-point handicap (meaning England must win by 16 points or more) might have been available at 2.0, representing better value given that England were expected to win comprehensively. In the actual match, England emerged as 31-12 winners, securing a successful bet for those who took advantage of the handicap market.
Studying Current and Historical Team Form
Researching recent form and previous results can significantly enhance your chances of success when betting on rugby. For example, consider the case of London Wasps, who haven’t lost a home game to Leicester Tigers since 2007. Despite the Tigers’ overall superiority during that period, it would not be advisable to back them at Adams Park.
Head-to-head results can also serve as valuable indicators. Wales, although a solid international side, has consistently lost to South Africa and New Zealand under the coaching of Warren Gatland. While records can be broken, reviewing previous encounters often provides a strong indication of where your money should go.
Taking Playing Styles into Consideration
Understanding a team’s preferred style of play can offer valuable insights into potential betting patterns. If a side is known for their forward-oriented game or defensive kicking strategy, tries might be scarce. When both teams play in a similar style, tries are likely to be at a premium. In such cases, it is wise to consider backing a Penalty in the First Scoring Play market, particularly if the teams possess reliable kickers.
Exploring Other Markets
In addition to the popular markets mentioned earlier, there are a few more worth considering:
First Try Scorer
Wingers are the most likely players to score tries. They are the finishers, involved in approximately 70% of passing moves. Wingers, often priced around 7.0 to score first, are the go-to choice unless you’re watching two forward-oriented sides in action.
Any Time Try Scorer
While wingers remain the top candidates to score tries, rugby offers a variety of positions and methods for try-scoring opportunities. Forwards occasionally join the backs in passing moves or peel off from driving mauls to score. Backing a forward at long odds to score anytime can prove to be a wise bet, especially flankers who are dynamic runners and frequently carry the ball. While big men up front might not be likely to score first, as the game progresses and different tactics are employed, they often contribute to the spoils.