How to Bet on Rugby

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. Betting on rugby has become increasingly popular as online betting means punters are no longer restricted to just annual flutters on the Six Nations.
  2. If you're new to betting on rugby, try putting a little money on a single match to start with. This way you can see how odds work.
  3. Online betting offers the greatest choice of betting markets, see our latest best betting sites for all new customer offers. 
  4. Betting on a Match Winner is the most popular type of rugby bet, though there really is no limit to the number and variety of bets you can make.
  5. Handicap betting, where one team is given an imaginary head start, is very popular in rugby. Be sure you know how this works before making a bet.
  6. To increase your chances of winning big, do your homework. A good knowledge of a team or player's recent form can help you make a savvy bet.
  7. Remember that betting on rugby can potentially become addictive, so be sure to bet responsibly and don't gamble with money you can't afford to lose.
  8. Make sure you understand what Rugby you are betting on; read our guide to Rugby Union and Rugby Leagues rules. 

Betting on Rugby

Betting on rugby is becoming increasingly popular, thanks in no small part to the growth of online betting. While many fans have always had a flutter on the World Cup and the Six Nations, these days you can bet on a wide range of tournaments and matches, with bookies offering a huge variety of betting markets such as the Challenge Cup.

Rugby is one of those sports where knowledge goes a long way, so if you have a good understanding of the game, betting can be a good way of making a little money. But before you put any money down, you should

Where to Bet

There are two ways you can bet on the rugby: you can either go to your local high street betting shop, or you can go online.

To enjoy the best variety of betting markets, as well as the chance to bet while a match or a tournament is in progress, you should go online and sign up to online betting. Check out our Sports Betting Sites and get some introductory free money to start betting with. You may want to sign up to more than one online bookie as this way you can compare the odds being offered and make your money go further. For this guide, we've used Bet365 as an example of how to make a wage online.

Understanding the Odds

The odds (also known as the price) indicate how likely the bookmakers think an event is to happen, whether it's a country winning the Six Nations or a player scoring a penalty kick. The odds also determine how much you will win if your prediction is correct. On most sports betting sites, the odds will be expressed as fractions. Or they could be expressed as decimal points or even in the American style. In all cases, however, you should be able to change the settings to suit you. Here's what each of these mean:

1) Fractional Odds

On the majority of UK sports betting sites you will find that the default setting for displaying the odds will be as fractions. Odds displayed this way show you how much you will win on a bet compared to how much you put on. Quite simply, The first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.

So, if the odds for Team A winning a specific match are 3/1, this means if you bet £1, you will receive £3 in winnings (and you will get your original stake back on top of this).

This works on a ratio basis. So, if you place £10 at odds of 3/1, you will receive £30 in winnings. Or, if you place £5 at odds of 8/1, your winnings will be £40, plus your initial stake.

Sometimes you will find that the second number of the fraction is larger than the first. This is what's known as an 'odds on' bet and shows that the bookies believe that the chances of a particular prediction (such as England beating Canada) coming true are greater than 50/50. The principle remains the same, however: the first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.

For example, if you put £2 down on odds of 1/2, your winnings will be £1. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £60 at the same odds, you will win £30, plus your initial stake.

2) Decimal Odds

Given most people are used to seeing odds displayed as fractions, getting your head around decimal odds may seem daunting. But, don't worry, this system is equally straightforward once you've got the hang of it.

The way it works is that you just need to multiply your stake by the decimal shown and this is how much you will receive in winnings, including your returned stake.

So, if you put £1 down on odds of 3.00, you will win £3.00, including your initial stake, if your prediction comes true. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £15 at the same odds of 3.00, you will win £45, including your original stake.

A Further Note About Odds

Some online bookmakers will also display odds in the 'American' style, though this is quite rare for rugby betting. While some US sports betting fans prefer this system, to avoid any unnecessary confusion, you should switch the odds to either the fractional or decimal system.

If you're still confused about the odds on offer, then click on the bet you want to make and type in the amount you want to bet. With most online bookmakers, you will then be shown how much your stake will return and, using this information, you can decide whether or not you want to go ahead with the bet.

Popular Types of Bet

1) Match Winner

The easiest bet to make on the rugby is to put money on the team you think will win a specific match. The 'Match Winner' bet is very straightforward. All you need to do is choose one side and back them at the odds offered. In most cases, these will be three-way bets: that is, you can bet on either side winning or you can bet on a draw.

Let's take as an example the odds offered ahead of a match between Toulon and Saracens. Here you can see Toulon are the odds on favourites, with Saracens the outsiders. A draw is deemed very unlikely by the bookies at 18/1:

To make a match even more interesting and to increase the odds on offer and so boost your potential earnings) consider a betting double. Here, you need to predict the not only the winning team but also the one that will be ahead at half time. This can be a good bet to make if a team has a history of starting off slow but grinding out results towards the end of games or if a team often starts well but then gets tired after an hour or so.

Here's what the betting double options for the same match between Toulon and Saracens would look like: 

How Handicap Betting Works

Handicap betting has become increasingly popular in a number of sports, including rugby union. Here, one side is given a virtual 'head start' in a match, with the odds offered then based on this head start. While it can look very complicated and daunting, once you get the hang of it, it's quite a straightforward type of bet to make and can be a good way of making money on a game.

So, let's go back to the match between Toulon and Saracens. Here's the handicap betting market for that game:

As we have seen, the bookies have Toulon down as favourites. So, to make things more interesting, here they offer a 3-point handicap, meaning you need to imagine the match starts with Saracens 3-0 up.

If you back Toulon at the Handicap of -3.0, as shown below, you will get odds of 10/11. If they then win by more than 3 points (more than their handicap) you will be a winner at these initial odds. If they win the game but do so by less than 3 points, then you lose.

Similarly, if you back Saracens at the handicap bet of +3.0 at the odds offered below and they lose by just 2 points, you will still win. This is because they had a 3 point head start, so would still be the overall winners using this system. The tie draw works in exactly the same way: if Toulon wins by just 3 points, then the head start means the game finishes in a tie. 

2) Winning Margin

As well as betting on which team you think will win, you can also bet on how many points you think they will win by. This can be a good way of winning more money, especially if you correctly predict a match will either be very closely fought or will be a very easy win for one team.

This bet works in the exact same way as a Match Winner bet. All you need to do is choose one of the options offered by the bookie and put money on it. If your prediction is correct, you will win at the odds originally offered. Here's the Winning Margin betting market offered by Bet365 before the Toulon versus Saracens match:

3) First Scoring Play

Most bookies will offer you the chance to bet on who will get the first points of a match and how they will score them. That is, whether they will be scored through a try, penalty or drop goal.

Since Toulon were named the Match Winner favourites and since penalty kicks are the easiest way of getting points of the board in rugby, it's no surprise to see that Toulon-Penalty has the shortest odds in this betting market. Meanwhile, Saracens to score first with a drop goal is considered the long shot. Here's what the First Scoring Play betting market looked like ahead of that match.

As with all bets, the best way of lengthening the odds you are offered and so increasing the size of your potential winnings is to combine First Scoring Play with another bet. So, you could bet on Saracens to win by between 1 and 5 points but for Toulon to score first with a try. Most bookmakers will be happy to offer odds on almost any bet you want to make.

4) Tournament Winner

One other massively popular bet is Tournament Winner. This is self-explanatory: all you need to do is pick the team you think will win a tournament and back them at the odds offered. Major tournaments and competitions include the Rugby World Cup, the Premiership and the Six Nations. Note that odds can fluctuate, especially once a tournament gets underway, and you will only win at the odds you initially backed a team at.

Here's an example of the odds offered on the different countries taking part in the Six Nations 2015. Here we can see England are favourites ahead of the tournament, though again, odds can go up or down, for instance if a side picks up injuries or has a bad run of form going into an event.

5) Other Types of Bet

As before, there really is no limit to the variety or number of bets you can place on either a rugby union tournament or a single match. Most bookmakers, whether they're online or on the high street, will be happy to offer you odds on most predictions. Here are just a few popular types of bet made on rugby:

  • First try scorer: Simply name the player you think will score the first try and if he does, you win at the odds quoted. Note, however, that some bookies may declare all bets void if there are no team scores a try in the whole game and so give you your money back while others will consider yours a lost bet.
  • Highest scorer: Ahead of a tournament, most bookies will offer odds on the one player they think will finish as the top points scorer. Consider backing kickers as well as players who regularly score tries.
  • Number of fouls: One fun flutter is to bet on the number of fouls called in a match, or the number of penalty kicks, line-outs. Again, this type of bet is generally hard to predict so should be seen as a little fun to make a game more interesting and nothing more.

Hints and Tips for Betting on Rugby

Like most sports, the best way of making money betting on rugby is to do your homework. Having a thorough knowledge of teams and individual players can allow you to spot attractive odds and make savvy bets. Some of the things you should consider before putting any money down include:

  • Recent Form: Some bi teams have a history of winning and so backing them may seem obvious. However, recent form is just as important as reputation, if not more so. Study recent win-loss-draw statistics for each team and see what form they are in, with the past 6-8 matches usually a good guideline. For instance, a team ranked higher could be on a poor run of form than a lower-ranked team on a hot streak.
  • Head-to-Head Form: Most sides have bogey teams, which is opposition they nearly always struggle against. Given this, it's worth looking at recent head-to-head results to see if there are any patterns. As a rule, it's best to just look at any head-to-head meetings over the past 12 to 18 months; anything longer ago than this will be largely irrelevant.
  • Playing Conditions: As well as the players, you should also check the playing conditions for a single match and consider how these may affect the outcome. Does a team struggle in poor weather? Does a kicker get fewer points when it's windy? Also consider where the game is being played as some teams struggle on the road.
  • Referee: Referees in rugby are not all the same. Some may take a hard line on fouls, others may be more easy-going. This can not only affect the number of fouls or penalties called but can also affect the flow of the game.

Further Sports Betting Reading

Our YouTube videos show you how you can make online bets with tips and advice for making informed and up to date punts, other betting guides include:

  • Horse racing with daily races at venues all over the UK and round the world a must read guide on How to bet on a Horse , along with a our exclusive video.
  • Tennis from Wimbledon to all the Grand Slams, indoor events and doubles, our comprehensive How to bet on Tennis guide will take you through the basics and help you decide on clever bets.
  • The football is a huge area with "in play" like never before its possible to make money with minutes of a match remaining see How to bet on football while our YouTube video focuses on betting on the Champions League in the knock out stages. 
  • Cricket is now played throughout the year in Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa there has never been a better time to learn How to bet on Cricket .

Further Rugby Betting Reading

  • Give yourself the edge over the bookies by doing your homework and reading up on the form of teams and players. Check out Planet Rugby for all the latest news
  • The ESPN Scrum page  is another great place to keep up with all the latest news from the world of rugby union


Betting Responsibly

Though usually fun and occasionally a good way of making money, in the UK you need to be over 18 to open an online account. Like all types of sports gambling, betting on rugby can become addictive. So, you should always bet responsibly. Never gamble with money you can't afford to lose and don't make rash bets in an effort to make up for any losses.

Important Information on Gambling

You must be 18+ to gamble and use the offers and betting odds featured

Every new gambling account offer has "Terms & Conditions" that will apply - make sure you read these before opening an account.

See for help and advice on problem gambling.

Please gamble responsibly.


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