Rugby union is said to be the fastest growing sport in the world. Already well established in Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, it is rapidly developing in other Latin-American countries, and has moved into Asia.
Japan is the best-known Asian rugby nation, but the game is growing quickly in China. Meanwhile, after being slow to pick up the game after it turned professional in 1995, the USA, too, is taking its first tentative steps in the pro game with Major League Rugby.
While rugby is popular, it is still far behind other sports such as soccer horse racing or golf in international gambling terms. In the USA, Football remains the number one betting sport – mainly through Fantasy Sport competitions.
As a result, rugby betting odds are not nearly as competitive as other sports – and it may be that the handicap market offers better value and bigger wins.
Study the Form
As with all sports, it is a good idea when betting on individual matches to pay attention to each side’s recent form. Check league tables to compare positions, but also look back at recent results because it may be a lower-ranked side is actually on something of a run following a bad patch. Read articles about players to discover whether they’re on form. You can find results for the entire season to date on official league websites. Whether a side is home or away can have a bearing on results, too.
Place an Ante-Post Bet
Ante-post betting (aka futures betting) involves longer-term bets that rest on the outcome of an event, such as the eventual winner of the Six Nations, Champions Cup, Super Rugby, or Top 14. These bets must be placed before the tournament kicks off, so – for example, punters would be trying to pick, in August, the winner of the Top 14 the following June.
Because bets are placed so early, prices tend to be more generous. But you have to be patient – and lucky. Continuing the Top 14 trope, since 2011 six different teams have lifted the title, including Clermont and Castres (both two time winners), Toulouse, Toulon, Stade Francais and Racing 92.
For shorter international tournaments, such as the Six Nations – which run over a few weeks, check the fixture list. In alternate years, sides will play two or three matches on home soil. That could easily have an effect on results.
Check the Handicap
Handicap betting is where the bet is adjusted to make it seem more attractive. In rugby, there are three possible results, but one side is often stronger than the other – see the earlier notes on form. In this case, bookmakers will handicap the team they feel is most likely to win by starting them on minus points. The other side then has a plus handicap. The idea of this is to even out the chances of the two teams and make betting more even.