Rugby Bets

Rugby BetsRugby’s global appeal, though not as far-reaching as the likes of football, means it is rife with betting opportunities. From the two codes’ World Cups to the Six Nations, the Tri Nations, the Lions on tour or the various domestic championships contested around the globe, there are odds to be offered and money to be made all the time.

Within every game there are various markets including match odds and loads of others, ranging from the common to the very niche as well. Though Rugby Union and Rugby League are of course very different, with alternate sets of rules, the markets offered on both codes of the sport are mostly, if not always, the same. As such for the purposes of this article we treat them as one unless stated. Here are a selection of the bets most commonly offered on both codes.

Tournament Betting

There are many rugby tournaments, both Union and League, in a range of formats. On the international scene the World Cup in both codes are the biggest tournaments but these are supplemented by a range of others such as the Six Nations in Union or the Four Nations in League.

Domestically, among the wealth of leagues that offer odds worldwide, the Premiership and the Super League dominate British betting. International club tournaments such as League’s European Championship or Union’s European Rugby Champions Cup also provide more excitement and betting opportunities.

Looking at the stature of the sides involved and their current strengths often indicates who will have the shortest odds. Leicester Tigers have won the Premiership most often, so they are almost always installed into the betting as one of the favourites. Saracens, as the winners of the last two titles, are given similar backing.

Looking at the domestic and continental form of a team, new arrivals and departures or changes in the backroom staff can all provide useful insight. For international tournaments, seedings indicate who is likely to be a success at the World Cup, while competitions such as the Six Nations tend to hinge on teams building up to the tournament in good form and with few high profile absences.

Betting on the outright winner of a tournament simply involves picking the side you think will ultimately prevail. This is a great bet as it lasts at least a few weeks and possibly many months depending on the competition. Odds will usually be around the 3/1 to 10/1 mark, although they can fluctuate if there is a particularly strong side or an unusually open event.

Match Betting

Though tournament betting provides some competitive odds, it can take a long time for a bet to come to fruition. In the meantime, match betting means that punters can make wagers and collect winnings on a regular, week by week basis.

There are many match markets, but outright match betting simply asks the punter to choose which side they think will win. There are very few draws in Rugby League, and even fewer in Union, so the odds on that outcome are very high – usually around the 25/1 mark.

Match betting sees shocks more often than tournament betting, but the best odds can often be found in games between two well-matched sides. However, greater risk means greater rewards, and backing a less fancied outfit in decent form against a favourite suffering due to a run of poor results or injuries can reap dividends.

Half Time/Full Time

This double result market entails betting on the side you think will be winning both at half time and at full time. If you expect Leeds Rhinos to dominate a match against Hull KR, your bet would be Leeds/Leeds, but if you were backing Hull KR to mount a comeback the option would be Leeds/Hull KR. As a draw remains very unlikely in either League or Union, any combination including a draw will attract higher odds. This market is good for punters expecting momentum to shift during the course of the game. It is also a good option when you fancy a side to win but want longer odds than the standard match odds provides.

Handicap Betting

Betting on the favourite is, frankly, quite boring. Watching a clearly superior side canter home to confirm the success of a 2/9 bet may be easy, but it certainly isn’t lucrative or thrilling.

To make things more interesting, the handicap betting market provides an alternative to the outright match option. By adding a negative handicap, such as -4.5, the side you choose must overcome both their opponents and the handicap. A 24-21 victory would not win the bet as the handicap would, for the sake of this bet, make the score 19.5-21, but a 27-21 win would be successful.

On the flip side, a positive handicap can boost the chances of an underdog. Giving a side a +5.5 handicap, for instance, means that they could lose 16-11 but still hand the punter a win. Handicaps allow for many levels of risk or ambition, with the bigger negative handicap and a smaller positive handicap offering the greater rewards. This market adds some spice to match betting, but it can mean you lose out even if the side you are backing is victorious.

Total Match Points/Tries

Another way to make matches more interesting is by betting on the total number of points or tries that will be scored during the game. Bookmakers do not look for exact figures when asking for total points; points will be grouped, with options including the likes of 41-45, 56-60 or a greater range that offers shorter odds like 51-60.

Likewise for tries, a specific number will not be required. Punters will be asked to bet if there are over 4.5 tries or under 4.5, for example. The lower points bands offer longer odds as very low-scoring games are not all that common, so when two strong, defensive-minded sides meet, betting on low totals can bring success at handsome odds.

Winning Margin

Betting on the margin of victory can also make a game more intriguing. Like with the total points/tries markets, punters are not asked to give a specific number. Margins like 1-5 and 6-10, or 1-12 and 13+, will be offered by various bookmakers. A thrashing by a favourite can therefore be quite a money-spinner, whereas betting on an outright win would not give great odds. Likewise, calling a narrow margin of victory in a game not expected to be tight can be rewarding as opposed to simply picking one side to win. Again, this is a great option for those that want longer odds than those in the normal match odds betting.

Other Rugby Bets

Rugby Union and Rugby League are both major players in the world of sport, with huge followings in the countries in which they are prevalent. Naturally, that means that betting opportunities are rife, and the markets outlined previously are just a few of the main ones.

The main markets are typically quite broad and betting is more to do with strategy than chance, but there are a few niche options that are as much for fun as they are for serious punters. Here are a few more betting options that are often offered by bookmakers, especially for the biggest games and competitions.

First/Last Scoring Points/Try

One interesting option is betting on either the first side to score a try, or the side to score the last try. The first or last tryscorer does not necessarily have an impact on the outcome of the match as a whole, but does provide some interest for punters in the opening or closing stages. Rather than betting on tries, there is the option to bet on the first or last point scorers, so every kick becomes significant.

First Tryscorer

As well as betting on which side will score first, you can also opt for the longer odds option of naming a specific player. This bet is akin to the first goalscorer market in football and is increasingly popular.

Race to 10 Points

Instead of following a match right to its conclusion, there is the option to bet on the side that will reach 10 points first. In the unlikely event that neither side reaches the 10-point threshold, then ‘neither’ is the winner. If you fancy an extremely low-scoring game, then ‘neither’ would be a very lucrative option.

Half Time Result

Another market for those with a short attention span, or punters looking for a quick fix, bookmakers offer odds on the side that will be leading at half time. Naturally ‘draw’ is an option, and the one at the longest odds at that, but even over a shorter period of time it is rare. The market offers shorter odds than the HT/FT market, but it is a good option for backing a less fancied side that you think might start well but not necessarily maintain a lead.

Total Home/Away Tries/Points

More specific to one team than the total points or total tries market, this market allows punters to guess how many points or tries either the home or away team will score over the course of the match.

Highest Scoring Half

Games can get off to a frenetic start before fading out, or more commonly start slowly before exploding into life in the second half as defences tire. The highest scoring half market allows you to bet on the half you think will see the most points scored.


There are plenty of specials markets that offer some interesting ways to get involved with rugby betting, with many having an element of fun as they are about as strategy-based as betting on the turn of a roulette wheel! One such example offered by bookmakers is the market offered for betting on whether an even or odd number of points or tries will be scored in a game.

Betting on the shirt number of the first or last try scorer is a bit more strategic as the numbers given out tend to correlate to a position more or less likely to be occupied by a points scorer, especially in Rugby Union. Another option may be to bet on whether or not the first try of the game will be converted. These less popular markets are just some of the many specials that can be bet on during tournaments or matches.