Sports and betting have been a common pair for a long time. An extra level of fun and excitement is added to the game when bets have been placed and money is on the line. 

Rugby is already an exciting and unpredictable sport, so adding gambling to the mix takes it to another level. As one of the most popular and rapidly growing sports in the world, rugby is a great game to follow throughout the season and place some bets for a chance to win money and have a little fun.

New to rugby and not sure where to start? You’re in luck! Our sports betting experts at Planet 7 Casino have put together this handy guide to teach you everything you need to know to get started placing your bets on this fantastic team sport. 

Rugby Basics — How to Play

Rugby is an aggressive, contact sport played between two teams on a field with an oval ball. The object of the game is to score more points than the other team in the allotted 80 minutes of gameplay. 

The ball moves up the field in “phases of play”. Players must never throw the ball forward, instead, passing it backward and advancing forward on foot with the ball in hand. Players can also kick the ball forward and chase it down. The opposing team will attempt to gain back possession of the ball by tackling the team on offense. 

There are multiple ways to score points in rugby, and each way has a different point value:

  • A try is when a player holding the ball reaches the opponent’s “dead ball area” behind the goal and touches the ball to the ground. Five points are awarded.
  • A conversion is a free kick that a team is awarded after scoring a try. A conversion is worth two points, and in order to receive those points, the ball must be successfully kicked between the bars of the goal post.  
  • A penalty kick will award a team with three points when the opposing team causes an infringement. 
  • A drop goal will earn a team three points. This happens when the ball is dropped quickly on the ground and then kicked through the goal post. 

Variations of Rugby

Rugby was created as far back as 1823 by a student at Rugby School named William Webb Ellis. Today, there are two variations of this team sport — rugby league, and rugby union. Rugby union, played with 15 players on the field, is the most traditional version and is more closely reminiscent of the original. This is the version that is most popular in the United States, as it is what is played in most colleges. It is also more popular in the south of England and is commonly played throughout much of the world. 

The second variation of rugby is called rugby league, which is also more than a century old. League is extremely popular in northern England and Australia. This version is played with 13 players from each team and it is loved for its faster gameplay which allows for more tackling and excitement from the audience. 

Types of Rugby Bets

Rugby betting, no matter which variation, can be divided into two categories: match betting, and tournament betting. Like in other sports, this means you can make short-term bets on each individual match, or you can choose to make long-term bets to see how the team will play out over the season and see who will be the champion of certain tournaments. 

Below is a list of the different types of match bets you can make in rugby.

Match Result– This is a fairly straightforward bet — you are simply betting on a team to win, lose, or draw. At the international level, there is usually a limited value in placing these bets because there are very rarely big upsets.

Handicap Bets– These are similar to match results, but have higher values because a point margin is introduced. For example, if you place a bet on your team -9 to win, you are essentially betting that your team will win by 10 points or more. 

Winning Margin– This is similar to a handicap in that you are betting that one team will win by a certain number of points. The key difference is that if you bet a margin of 2 goals, the team you have bet on must win by a margin of 2 goals — 2-0, 5-3, 12-10, for example. Winning margin bets often have a higher reward due to the preciseness of the bet. But with higher rewards comes higher risk! 

First Scoring Play– There are four ways the first points can be scored. This is an interesting bet to place. You are betting on which type of way the first points will be scored: try, penalty try, drop kick, or penalty. Penalty obviously has the smallest odds, so it is probably in your best interest to not place that particular bet. Depending on the style of gameplay that each team prefers, it is often wise to wait to see who will have first possession before placing your bet. 

First Try Scorer– With this best, you are placing a wager on who will be the first player to score a try, no matter at what point in the game it is scored. There are a few variations of this bet including, first try scorer from each team, first try scorer in each half, and the position of the first try scorer. 

Now, take a look at the different types of bets you can make during a tournament or series. A tournament is that such as the Six Nations, World Cup, Olympic Games, etc. A series is a number of matches with the same teams playing against each other. 

Tournament of Series Winner– This is simply a bet placed on which team you think will win the tournament or series. It is the most basic version in this category of bets and does not come with a lot of risk, so the payout is often low. 

Margin of Victory in a Series– With this bet, you will wager on who you think will win the series, and by home much. For example, you might pick Australia to win a three-match series against Ireland 2-1. 

Top Points Scorer in a Tournament or Series– As the name suggests, with this bet you are betting on who will score the most points in a tournament or series, regardless of how they are scored. You can bet on a player from each team, or simply the top scorer between them both. 

Top Try Scorer in a Tournament or Series– This is similar to the previous bet, but instead you are betting on who will score the most tries. Points scored any other way to not apply to this bet. 

Strategies for Successful Rugby Betting

Know Who You Are Betting On– Each team has a different playing style. Before placing any bets you should do a bit of research and get to know each team, their players, and their stats. 

Some teams are more aggressive and score a lot of tries, while other teams prefer to play back a little and rely on drop kicks and other methods of scoring. This is important information to know when placing many of the bets we listed above.

Check the Weather– Checking the weather of the location of the game is a good idea. If it rains, the ball will be slippery and there will probably be a lower number of points scored than usual. Also factor in the climate differences for each team and what they are used to playing in at home. 

Stay Updated– Check the news on the days leading up to the match. If there are any recent injuries or conflicts between teammates, coaches replaced, etc., the result of the game can be greatly influenced. 

Know the Players and Positions– This is an obvious one but we can’t leave it off the list. Certain positions just score more than others; it’s the nature of the game. Before placing a top scorer bet on a certain player, make sure that they are even in the position to score in the first place. This goes along with doing your homework and knowing the game and sport that you are betting on. 

Go With Your Gut– At the end of the day, we all have instincts telling us what to do. Often this intuition and these feelings are correct. If you feel confidently about something (within reason, go for it! It could result in a big pay day and satisfying victory for your favorite team. 

Time to Place Your Bets!

Now that you have a clear understanding of the types of bets you can make in rugby, it’s time to check the schedule and stats of your favorite team. Prepare to have a lot of fun watching this energetic and passionate sport, and hopefully win some real money along the way. 

Good luck!

Frank West is a bit of an itinerant gambler. An avid traveler and freelance writer with a penchant for games of chance, Frank has hit the tables in casinos the world over and picked up a copious volume of knowledge along the way. Frank enjoys passing on what he’s learned in blog and magazine articles about gambling and teaching people how to beat the house. He also covets his privacy, authoring his articles only under the pen name Frank West.