Rugby betting explained – How to bet on rugby

Types of Sports

If you’ve been looking at the rugby betting odds and fancy trying your hand at a few wagers, you’ll either be a fan of the sport already or a more seasoned better looking to move into a new market. If the latter is the case, there’s a first basic decision you need to make – are you going to go for rugby league or rugby union?

What’s the difference and why does it matter?


In terms of time, the matches have the same durations (two halves of 40 minutes each), but while union has 15 players, league has 13, something that immediately impacts the market options. There are also different rules and some specific terminology, meaning that if you want to cover both on more than a purely casual and opportunistic basis, you need an understanding of both – one just won’t do. This is why you’ll find more differences across rugby odds than you may in other sports and just because you’re au fait with rugby league betting, doesn’t mean you’ll have the hang of rugby union betting.

Rugby betting markets

There are of course major tournaments to look out for – some of which you won’t fail to miss, most notably the big union fixtures, while others remain obscure and often connected to overseas markets. Some of the best known are the Six Nations, the World Cup, domestic leagues, the European Rugby Champions Cup (the Heineken Cup), the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the Aviva Premiership, the Super League, the Elite One Championship, Elite Two Championship, the National Rugby League, the Four Nations, the Super Premiership New South Wales, the Rugby League World Cup and the European Championships. Within these markets there are three basic bets that make a good starting point if you’re new to the pointy balled sport, and are generic to both league and union rugby betting.

The basic types of bet

The Money Line is perhaps the best place to start as a novice, due to its simplicity. Next is Totals, and much like the number of goals in football, this is the number of points that’ll be scored in all. The bookmaker sets a figure and you bet over or under that figure. Then there’s Handicap betting, where the bookie applies a handicap to a team, giving one the advantage over the other. You can still bet on either team, but the underdog must bag a victory with more points than the figure designated by the bookmaker for you to make your money on them, and the team with the advantage must win, lose or draw by less than their designated figure for a bet on them to pay out.

History can help

It’s all fairly familiar territory in terms of types of bets, but of course you’re up the creek without  paddle if you don’t know at least a little about the team and players in question.This is just the start, with a vast number of wagers possible based on factors such as first try scorer, most try scorers, winning margin (the number of points the winner actually wins with), accumulators for the various championships and much much more. Handicap betting has historically featured highly in rugby betting tips and rugby league handicap betting is especially popular due to some very one-sided matches and short priced odds. But to really do well, you’ll need to do your research and swot up on what history has to tell us about what may happen in the future.

Style of play

It can also be very useful, particularly in rugby betting to examine a team or player’s style and choose rugby odds that takes advantage of this information. Strategy can inform the likelihood of the number of tries for example. As unlike some other sports, points are not gained in just one way ie. scoring goals. Instead, points can come from a try, drop goal, penalty kick or conversion.

Teams may take a variety of approaches in the way they attempt to get points, and aim for one – or several – above others, depending on their strengths/weaknesses and their opponents. This can result in tactics such as adopting defensive play that focuses on penalties. Therein lies the specifics and inside knowledge required to make educated guesses that’ll really make you the money, rather than just throwing some cash at a vague total or money line option.

A winter sport that’s stood the test of time

Rugby has been popular ever since the 1800s (when a pupil at Rugby school is said to have picked up a football, running with and inspiring a whole new ball sport). So it’s no surprise that it’s a mainstay of bookmakers all over. Naturally geography dictates to some degree, how much hype for the sport there is in your area, but when it comes to your wager, you can go anywhere you like. Do your homework and before you know it, you’ll be a rugby aficionado.