Betting on Rugby is big business whichever code of the game you prefer and Rugby betting continues for most of the year, with the range of competitions offered to the betting fraternity far reaching on a global level, allowing almost round the clock interest for avid fans.
Rugby Union Betting
Rugby Union betting is largely centred around the bookmakers’ handicap lines, which effectively drive all their other markets. The bookmaker will predict how many points the favourite is expected to win by and offer a line reflecting this prediction. If the odds compiler believes Exeter would beat Edinburgh by, on average, 5 points, his line would be offered as Exeter (-5), Handicap Tie (+5), Edinburgh (+5). The means for betting purposes, you simply take the final score, and add 5 points to Edinburgh’s score. You then work out if your selection was a winner.
For instance, you bet Edinburgh (+5). The result is 21-19. Adding 5 points to Edinburgh’s score leaves you with a final result of 21-24. This would make your bet a winner. If the final score was 21-12 (hence 21-17 after adding the handicap), then you would lose, because your selection has not managed to beat the handicap line. Unlike Rugby League, all handicap value can be used by the bookmaker, because points can easily end on either odd or even numbers.
One thing to understand when betting on handicap lines is that the greater the points expectancy is in any given match, the greater the variance around the handicap line as a general rule. In a very tight, top flight match, the scores tend to be relatively low, and the bookmakers handicaps will often fall fairly close to the final result. In more one-sided, where the number of expected tries may be very high, the bookmaker is far less likely to call the exact line. Imagine predicting the exact winning margin when New Zealand played Japan. While everyone knew the match would be a formality, predicting whether the Kiwis would win by 50, 60, 70 or 80 was nigh on impossible, leaving a very high varience..
Aside from the handicap betting, you can bet on winning margins, alternative handicap lines (essentially choosing your own, but betting at a price reflecting that probability), players to score tries, and how many tries and points each team will score.
You can also bet on most matched live these days, with TV channels such as S4C and BBC Scotland ensuring the bookmakers can see the action unfold wherever it is taking place, and offer betting throughout the duration of the match as a result.
With most teams taking part in several competitions throughout the season, and some of their players being involved with international commitments, it’s pretty important to check out the team news before having a bet. It’s common for teams to field partly weakened teams, and the handicap lines can move dramatically on some matches between the time they are first released and the start of the game. Getting the team news early can allow a sharp punter to gain an edge due to these movements, and that fact shouldn’t be underestimated.
We’d also advocate you keep an eye on the local weather forecasts when betting on rugby union. Points expectancies can drop considerably when rain is expected as the ball gets more slippery and the pitches get heavier, whilst the same is also true if the winds are gusting – making penalty kicking a far more challenging proposition, and reducing the conversion rates for both teams.
Ante post betting is available on most outright leagues, and the higher profile competitions will also offer betting on teams to finish bottom of the group, the top try scorer of the season, and top points scorer. Checking out a decent odds comparison site will show you which bookmakers you should open accounts with to place these sorts or bets, as not every firm will offer the same range of markets and odds. When placing ante post bets its always crucial to consider the season as a whole.
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Rugby League Betting
Rugby League betting has grown quickly in recent years, feeding off the growing stature of Super League – Europe’s premier competition. The expansion of the league and decision to widen the entry criteria from it being an English domestic league to one which allows foreign team participation has seen interest in the sport surge, and with Sky TV supporting this growth, betting has quickly grown around it.
Whilst Super League is the main league for betting, some bookmakers will also offer competitions such as Championship League rugby (the second and third tiers in the UK), the Australian NRL and the various cup competitions in England. International Rugby League will also be offered, but with relatively few nations playing the code, these games can often be highly uncompetitive – England, Australia, New Zealand and France are the strongest international teams.
The main betting on Rugby League revolves around the bookmaker’s handicap line. Handicaps will always be given as even numbers, given how rarely a team’s score will fall on an odd number, and the bookmaker will usually makes his major profit if he can get the result to land on the exact handicap. While odds will usually be offered at 10/11 on each team, and 16/1 for the “handicap tie”, in reality, few people bet on the draw, so this is almost always a profitable result for the bookie!
An example of a handicap market would be “Hull (-4) v Wigan (+4). This means that come the final score, four points will be added to Wigan’s score for bet settlement, and winners and losers then worked out. If Hull won 24-22 for instance, then the result for betting purposes would be treated as 24-26, and Wigan would win the handicap betting.
Straight match betting is also offered, but the favourite can often be quite a short price given the relatively low chance of a draw in rugby – considerably lower than 10%.
Betting on the total points is another popular market, as this allows a neutral an interest in the fortunes of both sides. We would advise only betting on total points markets once you have checked the weather forecasts close to kick-off, as points likelihood decreases in wet conditions when the ball becomes slippery, so you can often gain a small edge by factoring this into your betting – the bookmaker will have priced up his line several days ahead of the match and as a result, his best guess about the weather may prove incorrect.
With the advance of projection models within a bookmaker’s armoury, you can now bet on the total points for either team separately, as well as the total tries of each team or from the match as a whole, as well as markets such as the first and last team to score, the first team to reach ten points and the winning margin of the match.
Prices are also offered about which player will score the first or last try, and who may score at any time in the match, while recent developments with some bookmakers allow you to choose your own handicap line. If you think Leeds will thrash Bradford for instance, but the standard handicap line is 10/11 on Leeds (-6), you might choose to bet Leeds (-16) and get 4/1 or so instead.
The rugby league betting markets are pretty competitive these days, so it’s always worth checking out the odds across a number of bookmakers. With all scores falling on even numbers as a general rule, you’ll find through experience that taking a (+8) rather than a (+6), or a (–12) rather than a (-16) can turn a losing bet into a winning bet more often than you might think. Also look out for the bookmakers who offer Evens on their handicap lines near to kick off rather than the standard 10/11. This will normally only be the case on live TV games, but gives a nice bonus to winnings if you can call it right!
Finally, you can also look for an interest in longer term markets, with betting markets offered for the regular season winner, the Grand Final winner, and the team to finish bottom of the table. Remember this isn’t called relegation because some seasons will not see any team relegated from Super League. Other markets are offered on a more ad-hoc basis, with Next Manager markets making an appearance recently, as well as top team scorers, and season specials about individual rugby league teams.