Rugby Betting: Beginner Strategies & Advice

Updated: 5392 Learning

Scrum Down for Rugby betting with this beginner-friendly guide. Learn the various bet types, what to consider before placing a wager, and the most anticipated events.

Rugby Betting: Beginner Strategies & Advice
Luke Bradshaw Lee Commercial Content Manager

Experienced journalist and editor covering multiple aspects within the online sports and casino industry, NFL and Rugby Specialist

Embark on an exhilarating journey to mastering the essentials of Rugby betting with our definitive guide. If you're new to the sport or betting scene, you're in the right place. From understanding the odds to identifying the most electrifying events to bet on, this article explains the process, setting you up for a triumphant start. Read on to learn the ropes and discover how you can leverage these insights to make smarter bets and enjoy the game even more.

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Rugby Union Match Betting

The table below shows the number of betting markets that can be offered for International  Rugby matches. 

Less high-profile matches like the weekly Rugby Premiership may have fewer markets.

The best betting sites  would have most of these available; the smaller betting sites may have most but not all.

Rugby Betting Match MarketRugby Betting Match MarketRugby Betting Match Market 
Team To Score FirstAnytime Try Scorer Half Time
Team To Score LastFirst England Try ScorerHalf Time/Full Time
Team To Score Try FirstFirst Ireland Try ScorerHandicap 1st Half
First Try ConvertedFirst Try Scorer Shirt NumberHandicap 2nd Half
WinnerLast Try Scorer Shirt NumberHandicap
Winning MarginLast Try ScorerTotal Points - Odd Even
Highest Scoring Half
Total Tries - Odd/Even


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Further down the page we will breakdown the different betting markets so you are fully aware of what needs to be achieved for you to win your Rugby Union bet. 

Match Betting Explained

Team To Score First

In rugby betting, a team to score first refers to a bet where you predict which team will score the first points in a particular match. 

You will have the choice of team a or team b.

This can depend on which side gets the kick off and manages to get the play into the opposition's half early.

Team To Score Last 

As above but the team to score last. 

Team To Score A Try First

A bet on whether team a or b will score a try first. 

First Try Converted

An attempted conversion takes place after every try. 

Conversions
In the 1995 Rugby World Cup New Zealand beat Japan by 145 -17. Simon Culhane that day scored 20 of his 21 conversion attempts.

 First Scoring Play

This is an interesting bet on what manner the first points are going to be scored in. 

There is a choice between penalty kick, try and drop kick. Waiting until you know who is going to kick off first should give you a slight edge in this market.

Considering each team is very important in this market as teams with strong kickers are going to produce different results from teams that like to play open and flowing rugby. 

Penalty kicks are always favourite in this market and the teams with stronger packs, especially in the scrum, are most likely to earn penalties.

Winner

A bet on which team wins the match. Sometimes, if the game is particularly uncompetitive only a handicap market will be made available. 

Winning Margin 

A market that offers a range of points scenarios with a range of different odds, it is important to shop around for the best prices. 

In tight games between evenly matched teams there is likely to be a small winning margin whereas open, one sided games should produce a large winning margin.


Highest Scoring Half

As in football betting the second half is normally priced shorter. The draw is an option in this market. 

In the Six Nations match in 2024 between France and Italy exactly 13 points were scored in both halves. 

Anytime Try Scorer

Select a player to score a try at anytime during the match, the leading try scorers are naturally priced shorter. 

Last Try Scorer

As above but the last try scorer in the match. 

First Try Scorer For Team a & b

A bet on the first try scorer for each team in the match.  

This market is always popular with punters and is a bet on which individual player will score the first try in the match for his team. 

The most likely players to score first are the scrum half, outside half, full back, centre or the wingers.

It can be a competitive market so expect a decent price on your selection.

Occasionally there might not be a try in a match, in which case the winner of the market is no try scorer.

First Try Scorer Shirt Number

You need to know the number shirt each player is wearing before placing this bet. 

Last Try Scorer Shirt Number

As above but the last try scorer. 

Half Time

Which team will be winning at half time, a draw is an option and always the biggest odds. 


Half Time/Full Time

Which team will be winning at HT/FT, here you can mix and match selections

Draw/Team a

Team b/Team a 

Handicap

In handicap betting the better team is a given a points deficit that they must make up during the game in order to win the handicap. 

You have the the choice of backing the favoured team with their points deduction or the outsider with a points head start. 

One method successful punters have latched on to in handicap betting is to produce their own handicaps before the bookmakers price up the events. 

This way they have already decided what they think the difference in points is between the two teams, they can then see how much the opinion of the bookmakers differs from their own. 

The bigger the difference then the better the bet in most cases.

In more competitive matches the bookmakers will usually offer prices without a handicap as well as a small points handicap in the handicap market, this is for punters who may wish to bet on the game result without the interference of a handicap on the score.

At the bookies and  betting exchanges such as Betfair or Smarkets there are usually many different handicaps to choose from, this allows the punter to pick the bet that most suits them. 

Rugby bettors who prefer to play it safe will choose a bigger handicap at a shorter price, whilst punters with a stronger opinion will take the smaller handicap at the bigger odds.

Most punters prefer to support the team that is given the points head start as favourites are often overestimated, ultimately many games are closer than people think they will be.

In a handicap the outsiders receive a points head start, you can see below an example of handicap betting odds. 

Just add the + points to the final score to see if the bet is a winning one.  

England v IrelandBetting Handicap Odds
England + 12 1/1
England + 6.5  7/4
England + 1 4/1

Handicap 1st Half

As above but in the first half, if a team is known to start strongly then the 1st half handicap could be the best option. 

Handicap 2nd Half

As above but in the second half, teams who keep going and with a strong bench should be considered. 

Total Points

This is a bet on the total amount of points that will be scored in a given match. 

The bookmakers will usually decide the relative strength the teams' defence and attack and will assign a number of different scores with differing odds. 

This can be a difficult market to assess and is more of a bet to make a game interesting than to win serious money. 

Recently bookmakers have started to offer the same market on each team in a match. 

This makes finding the winner easier as only one team's scoring has to be considered, but the odds are obviously quite a bit shorter.

Total Points Odd or Even

A 50/50 bet that is poor value, the bookmakers will offer an odds on price, If you wish to read why check this betting blog

True Odds of 50/50Bookmaker Odds Value
1/14/6No
1/11/1No
1/111/10Yes
1/12/1Yes

 

Total Tries odd or even

As above.


Rugby Union Tournament Betting

When it comes to betting on a tournament (Such as the Six Nations or RWC) the bookmakers offer a raft of betting markets. 

Tournament Betting MarketTournament Betting Market
Tournament Betting Market
Top Points Scoring CountryStraight ForecastHighest Scoring Match
Top Point Scoring PlayerDual ForecastLowest Scoring Match
Top Try Scorer CountryBottom Two FinishWill Any Team Win The Grand Slam 
Player Of The ChampionshipTo Finish Bottom
Will Any Team Win The Triple Crown
WinnerTotal Wins - Over UnderFinishing Position

Look out for free bets, cash back offers, promotions in the lead up and during the major tournaments. 

Tournament Bets Explained

Outright Winner

This is betting on who you think is going to win the tournament or championship (or finish placed if you are betting each way). 

Depending on the competitiveness of the tournament there may be a short priced favourite or a very tightly bunched group at the head of the market. 

Some punters will back win only, or may back a bigger priced selection each way, simply for the place payout if that team reaches the final or finishes placed in a league competition.

Will Any Team Win The Six Nations Grand Slam

The Six Nations Grand Slam consists of any team beating all its rivals.  

Will Any Team Win The Triple Crown

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales compete for the Triple Crown, if any of those teams beat their three rivals they win the Triple Crown. 

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Finishing Position

A bet on what position a team or country will finish.

Top Try Scorer Betting

Top Points Scorer

Top Points Scoring Country 

Top Try Scoring Country

These point and try scoring bets are often difficult markets to predict. 

The outcome will depend on many factors such as player form, team form, injuries and suspensions so not a market to get too involved in, unless you consider the odds generous. 

Straight Forecast

Name the 1st and 2nd countries in correct order at a tournament.  

Dual Forecast

Which two countries will make the top two. 

To Finish Bottom

Who are the weakest team, can they cause an upset during the tournament. The betting odds need to be checked for any value bets. 

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Bottom Two Finish

Look for injuries, ill discipline, new coaches, anything that may affect a team from hitting the heights. 

Highest Scoring Match

Look to previous tournaments to see what week the highest scoring match occurred and which teams have history of racking up points. 

Lowest Scoring Match

As above, look to countries and teams that struggle to get the ball over the line. 

Player Of The Championship

The Player of the Championship will almost certainly go to the winning team, have you noted a stand out competitor?

The bigger bookmakers such as Paddy Power have this market.

GovernmentZA/Flickr


Rugby Union Betting Tips

The Weather

Greasy surfaces make handling difficult and soft ground doesn't allow the creative players the space to break lines (only dominant packs tend to score lots on muddy ground).

Size Of The Pitch

Smaller pitches cause congestion and less creativity so unless the teams are completely mismatched you can mostly expect games on smaller pitches to produce fewer chances to score tries and therefore fewer tries to be scored.

 

Tactics

Certain teams play a certain way not to lose and therefore have a lot of low scoring matches. Knowing the likely tactics of each team is very important and often you may find that some teams are better at playing as the underdogs. 

They may be set up negatively to restrict the opposition and then when they play weaker teams it is difficult to change the tactical mindset.

In Play Betting

Betting in play continues to grow season by season. By watching the start of the match via a streaming service you can get insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the teams. 

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 You may wish to close a pre match bet when you see the team you have supported playing abysmally or top up a bet when a player or pack are overperforming. 

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If you can read a game of rugby well, then in-play wagers can be very lucrative. 

Lower Your Stakes On International Rugby

Domestic rugby takes place each week which means there will be more reliable form to go on than when betting on International matches when there has been a long break between games. 

The more form that is taken into consideration, the more confident you can be about a bet.


Check The Team News

No side is the same without it's best players and the better teams without a couple of their stars are often worth opposing against a lesser team with a full strength line up, even when on paper the bigger team still has better players.

Playing with a settled side shouldn't be underestimated. When club fixtures take place at the same time as international fixtures some of the bigger teams can be without several first teamers and on those occasions great value can be gained in backing their opponents.

Check OLBG Tipsters

Check the OLBG Rugby Tipsters who have added their reasoned thoughts and comments on matches. Nuggets of helpful betting information will be on offer. 


Don't Read Too Much Into Past Meetings

Although past meetings can sometimes have an impact on a game, if there is bad blood between the sides or if one player seems to exploit a certain team's weakness, too much can be made of head to head results. A much stronger idea of the relative chances of two teams can be gathered from looking at the most recent games each team has played. If there are easily explainable reasons why one team often has the edge over another then sit up and take note but there will be many occasions when previous meetings have little or no impact on the likely outcomes in future matches.

Assess Each Teams Strengths and Weaknesses

The relative strengths and weaknesses of each team need to be considered whether betting on a match or an entire tournament. Some teams meeting each other will cause a tight low scoring game and others will result in an open high scoring game. For example, the winner of the Premiership is usually the team that concedes fewer points rather than scores most points. This shows that a knowledge of a team's defence and attack should give an advantage in picking the winner.

Wait For Good Bets

It is important to not get sucked in to betting on too many matches. It can often be harder in rugby to find good value bets than in other sports so don't bet unless something sticks out as being very good value.

On OLBG we have whole sections on value betting across all sports. 

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Rugby Union Advice From An OLBG Member

An OLBG Rugby tipster SAMBARB likes to look at which leagues favour the home sides, pointing out that in past seasons all the home sides won on three separate occasions in France's top division. 

He also recommends the winning margin market over the handicap as the winning margin can be only slightly harder to predict yet the odds can be far bigger.

Rugby Spread Betting Markets

As with most sports, rugby can also be backed with spread betting firms. Instead of simply being right or wrong, spread betting rewards the punter the more he is right, and punishes him the more he is wrong. 

Spread betting is more about finding outcomes that are either over estimated or under estimated by the bookmakers.

The two main spread betting companies are Sporting Index and Spreadex


Seasonal Points

A bet on how many points a team will accumulate during the season.

Supremacy

A bet on how much a team will dominate the opposition. In rugby it refers to how many more points a team will accumulate in a game than their opponents.

Team Performances

A bet on overall performance during a match. Differing points are awarded for wins, draws, trys, conversions, penalties and drop goals. Also be aware that points are deducted for missed penalties or drop goals and for sin bins and red cards.

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Time of First Try

Simply how long it will take either team to score a try. The maximum make up for this market is 80 minutes which would indicate that no try has been scored in the match.

Total Points

This market is betting on the total number of points that will be scored in a given match.

Tournament or Championship Index

In the bigger major tournaments or championships which we cover via a dedicated Six Nations Betting Preview you can bet on how well a given team will perform. 

The better they perform, the more points they will be awarded. The amount of places that are awarded with points will vary between spread firms, but expect it to be between four places and six places.

Rugby Betting For Beginners Summary

  • Check Rugby and Bookmaker rules, especially when placing a new bet.
  • Consider the Venue and Conditions.
  • Keep Up to date with Rugby News and Updates
  • Manage Your Rugby betting budget.
  • Remember, many markets will go in play.
  • Research Teams and Players.
  • Shop around to compare match and tournament odds.
  • Understand the bet you are placing.
  • Understand the Handicap.
  • Use tried and trusted Rugby Betting Strategies
  • Visit the OLBG Rugby Tips Page to check which matches are currently on offer. 


  • How do you bet on Rugby Union?

    If you would like to bet on Rugby Union, you will need a bookmaker account and some funds to bet. This is an easy priocess

    1. Choose a bookmaker [maybe the best for rugby] 
    2. Have some funds in your account to make the bet
    3. Go to the sports menu and choose Rugby Union
    4. Select the event you want to bet on
    5. Choose the market and selection
    6. Decide how much you want to stake on the bet
    7. Confirm
    8. That's it, you have placed your Rugby Union bet, and now all that's needs to happen is for it to win. Good Luck.

  • Where to bet on Rugby?

    You can bet on Rugby online on your computer or mobile phone if you have an online bookmaker account. Both Ladbrokes and Betway offer great prices on all Rugby Events. If you are betting on Rugby you will get the best more often by using either betway or Ladbrokes.

  • What is the best bet in Rugby?

    Handicap betting is Rugby is very popular, especially on point spreads. Many Rugby matches can be quite one-sided, so betting sites will create a point spread, to supposedly level out the chance with one side getting a headstart with points allowing you bet at similar odds for either side. In a closer game, you can bet on the match-winner in the normal way.

  • Is betting on Rugby legal?

    As long as you are placing your bet online with a licensed bookmaker you will be betting legally on Rugby. It is easy to find out of an online bookmaker is legal by checking if they have a license to operate with the UK Gambling Commission.

  • Is Ruby Union or Rugby League the best to bet on in-play?

    Neither would be better to bet on than the other. You would still have to make correct predictions. If considering which code of rugby is best for in running betting, one might be tempted to suggest the slower pace of Union would make it a better sport for in play betting on Rugby

Author

Many of the  OLBG Betting Experts contributed to this Rugby Blog to make sure that all betting option were explained. Nigel Skinner formatted and fact checked the article. 

Nigel Skinner

Nigel Skinner

Blog content manager

Nigel is one of OLBG's senior editors with 19 years of industry experience. Today he specialises in researching and writing about the betting angles to political and mainstream news stories and being the OLBG in-house expert on 'next football manager' betting markets.

Specialist Subjects🔬📚

⚽️👨‍💼 Nigel is an Arsenal fan first and foremost but has an unrivalled knowledge of English football managers at every level. Meticulously putting together our Next Manager articles, Nigel can quite possibly name you every manager of every club in the land, not to mention a pretty good eye for predicting replacements when changes happen. 

📈📊📉 A long-time exchange trader and spread betting fan, Nigel is our go-to for advice on the subjects and uses them daily in his own betting activity. 

🗳️💼 Finally, Nigel loves his politics and [some would say] has an unhealthy interest in the day-to-day events in the UK's political landscape, contributing to all our Political betting content and new pieces.

Responsible Gambling

If betting on Rugby or any sport please do gamble responsibly. The following article was been written to assist all readers in taking this sensible approach. 

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There are also links at the foot of each OLBG.com page to BeGambleAware and GamCare. 

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