Rugby is a popular sport around the globe, especially in countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Its fandom isn't as staunch in North America, but there are still fans across the continent.
There are several ways to bet on the sport, which we'll break down below as we explore the biggest rugby betting markets.
How to bet on rugby
Whether you're betting on Rugby League or Rugby Union, wagering on the moneyline is the simplest bet to make.
In short, a moneyline wager means betting on a team that will win the match. Neither the margin of victory nor the timing of the outcome (regulation or extra time) matters. The team you wager on simply has to finish with a higher score.
When making a moneyline wager, you'll notice that each side receives its own odds. The team denoted with a minus (-) symbol in front of its odds is the favourite, while the team listed with a plus (+) symbol is the underdog.
For example, in the 2021 Super League Grand Final match between top clubs St Helens and the Catalans Dragons, the odds for the game looked something like this:
St Helens (-300) vs. Catalans Dragons (+250)
In this instance, a $300 wager on St Helens was required to return $100. A $100 stake on Catalans is all that was needed to win $250. Although the potential payout for a wager on the Dragons was intriguing, it's important to consider the implied probability of the bet winning.
With +250 odds, the implied probability of the Catalans winning sat at 28.57%. For St Helens, -300 odds implied a 75% chance of winning.
In addition to betting on the moneyline, rugby fans can also wager on the handicap. Handicap wagering works exactly like point spreads in sports such as football and basketball.
With handicap betting in rugby, the sportsbook assigns a projected margin of victory for the favourite. Rather than simply winning straight-up, the favourite must also cover the handicap. The underdog, however, can afford to lose within a certain range and still cover.
For example, in a Rugby Union Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, the latter could be listed as a 2.5-point favourite. This means Scotland would have to defeat Wales by three points or more to cover the spread.
Wales would cover by winning the match outright or losing by two points or fewer.
Handicaps are intended to even things out, and typically each team will see -110 odds. Here's how a handicap market would be presented:
Wales +2.5 (-110) v. Scotland -2.5 (-110).
In this instance, a $110 wager on either squad is required to return $100.
How to bet on rugby three-way handicap
Another common form of handicap betting in rugby is three-way wagering. This opens the opportunity to wager on a tie.
In the Wales and Scotland game noted above, a three-way handicap line could list Scotland as a 2-point favourite and Wales a 2-point underdog. In this case, a tie is reached if Scotland wins by exactly two. Given that specificity, ties generally have much longer odds.
You would see odds for the tie listed at +1600, for example, which would mean an implied probability of just 5.88%. But if it occurred, a $100 wager would return $1,600. It has big payout potential.
This also means that if the game ended with Scotland winning by two points, neither a wager on Wales nor Scotland would cash your bet — it would be a push.
Wales would have to lose by one point or win outright to cover while Scotland must win by three or more to cover.
How to bet rugby totals
For those familiar with betting totals in leagues such as the NFL and MLB, rugby totals will be very easy to grasp. Wagering on rugby totals is the exact same as it is for other sports. Sportsbooks set a line for the game total, which represents the combined number of points scored by both sides.
Continuing with the Scotland and Wales example, let's say the total was set at 43.5 points. You'd have the option to bet whether the teams go over or under that total. A successful bet on the over requires Scotland and Wales to combine for 44 or more points.
A successful wager on the under, meanwhile, requires both sides combining for 43 points or fewer. The odds for either side of a totals bet will typically be listed at -110.
As a result, a $110 bet to the over or under is required to win $100.
Prop betting is another fun way to wager on rugby. There are numerous props available in this market, ranging from which side will score 10 points first to predicting the margin of victory. We'll focus on player props here.
One of the most popular player props is the try-scorers market. For those unfamiliar with the term, a try occurs when a player runs into the endzone with the ball and touches it to the ground.
The score is worth five points in Rugby Union and four points in Rugby League.
In the try-scorers market, you can wager on which player you believe will score a try in an upcoming game. Odds will vary depending on the type of try you bet on.
For example, a $100 wager on Duhan van der Merwe to score the first or last try of a game would see long odds — let's say +850.
Scoring an anytime try, however, would have shorter odds because there would be more opportunity for him to succeed. You might see odds for this prop listed at +140.
While these are among the most popular betting options, there are other ways to wager on rugby. One of those markets is live betting, which you can read up on in our guide to making in-game wagers.