By Phil Simon
Another sport outside the normal scope in the U.S. is rugby. American football was derived from the game over a century ago and has since had its own modifications. When betting on rugby games it’s important to remember there are differences between Rugby Union and the Rugby League. Think of American and Canadian football. In the truest form the games are the same. However, each one has its own idiosyncrasies that make it unique. And you don’t want to place a bet on the wrong game. Let’s take a look at the differences and how to bet on the game of rugby.
Rugby League vs. Rugby Union
Before placing a bet it helps to have some knowledge of the sport or event. While the game is the same, Rugby League and Rugby Union operate under different rules. The main difference pertains to who is on the field at one time. League is most popular in Australia while Union is more of an international game format used by countries around the world.
The concept of winning a match by outscoring your opponent remains the same. This is accomplished by running the ball up the field, passing the ball backwards or kicking while the opponent tries to stop the attacking team by tackling the ball carrier and forcing turnovers.
In Rugby Union teams consist of 15 players where Rugby League has 13 players on each side of the pitch. Another rule setting the games apart has to do with tackling. League allows six tackles before a turnover is committed. In Union there is no limit with possessions continuing until the ball is lost or stolen by the other side. Both matches are 80 minutes long with two 40-minute halves.
Both formats have the same ways of scoring, but there are differences in the amount of points awarded. The “try” is the main way of scoring in both codes. That’s when a player grounds the ball over the opponent’s goal line. In union a try is worth five points and in league it’s worth four points.
In both games a conversion following a try is worth two points. A drop goal is scored by drop kicking the ball through the goal and is worth three points in union and one point in league. A penalty goal is worth three points in union and two points in league. As you can see based on the points system the games can have a drastically different score. Now that you know the major differences between the two let’s touch on how to bet the games.
Now that we have a basic understanding of rugby we can look to place a more informed wager. The most common wager is selecting a team to win the match outright on the money line. Like other sports odds for rugby matches are typically presented in money line form where the favorite is listed with a negative sign ( - ) and the underdog with a positive ( + ). This tells you how much you can win and how much you have to wager on a particular match.
Let’s say this week’s match between the Brisbane Broncos and Newcastle Knights has Brisbane at -180 and the Knights at +150. The Broncos are the favorite so you’d have to wager more to win less. In this case a $180 risk pays $100. A bettor can profit $150 for a $100 wager should Newcastle pull the upset.
Handicap betting is another popular form of rugby wagering. Oddsmakers will give one side a handicap to even things out if one team has a significant advantage. Think of this as a point spread with the same concepts used in football or basketball betting.
Sportsbooks typically offer an over/under for rugby matches. Again, the concept is similar to what you see in a NFL game. Betting the over means you expect the teams to surpass the total number of points set by the shop. Taking the under implies you think the score will fall below the posted total. Also, most sportsbooks offer first half odds for certain matches as well as player props and live betting.
There are competitions that produce more betting opportunities at sportsbooks. An example would be the Rugby World Cup, Six Nations Championship, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup. As always do some homework before throwing down on a rugby match. And shop around for the best odds at different sportsbooks.