Everything You Need to Know About Rugby Betting

The name William Webb Ellis is synonymous with the sport of Rugby Union, with this English-Anglican clergyman credited with inventing the game back in 1823.

During a game of soccer, Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it towards the goal line, creating rugby’s unique style of play and laying the foundations for an entire sport!

We’ll explore this history of rugby further in this comprehensive guide, while asking what you need to know about Rugby Union betting and wagering on specific tournaments and formats.

Best Rugby Betting Sites by Category

🥇 Best Rugby Betting Site in Ireland:

Ladbrokes

🎁 Best Rugby Free Bet Offer:

Bet365

📡 Best Live Rugby Betting Site:

Betway

💯 Best Rugby Odds Betting Site:

Bwin

The Best Rugby Betting Sites Guide

rugby-betting

Let’s start with the basics; as you can’t successfully wager on Rugby Union without first seeking out the best licensed sportsbooks.

To help you on your way, we’ve outlined our top three rugby betting sites below, so that you can make an informed decision when comparing the market!

Ladbrokes

First up is Ladbrokes, which is one of the leading sportsbooks in the online market and one that remains similarly popular on high streets nationwide.

Ladbrokes offers a wide range of Rugby Union betting markets, from individual Gallagher Premiership matches to the coveted Six Nations tournament. There’s also a particularly large range of in-play markets and wagers in-play at Ladbrokes, so fans of the sport will have ample opportunity to bet as they watch the action unfold!

At present, Ladbrokes is also offering a £20 welcome bonus in the form of four, €5 free bets, which are subject to no wagering requirements but must be made on outcomes with odds of 1.50 or higher.

William Hill

William Hill is running a similarly generous welcome offer, which enables punters to claim two, €15 free bets within 30 days of their registration. Once again, this isn’t subject to wagering requirements, while you’ll have to place the bets on odds of 1.50 or greater to comply with the T&Cs.

William Hill also offers access to a diverse range of current and future markets, including RFU World Cup Qualifying games and outright betting on the upcoming Six Nations in March 2022.

You can also wager on the annual Pro14 competition at William Hill, with this international tournament increasingly prestigious and home to teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

Bet 365

Last, but by no means least, is Bet365, which arguably has the largest coverage when it comes to rugby betting markets in the UK.

Here, you can wager freely on relatively obscure tournaments such as the French Rugby Championship and French Division 2. Similarly, there’s a wide range of early ante post markets available at Bet365, as you can already wager on the winner of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2022 Six Nations.

The brand is also offering a unique welcome bonus that provides up to €100 in bet credits for new customers, so long as they make a minimum first deposit of €5. Minimum odds restrictions also apply here, while any returns will automatically exclude the bets credit stake.

How to Bet on Rugby

Now that you know where to bet, the next step is determining how to wager on this sport and its various markets.

Fortunately, we’ve outlined some rugby betting tips below, while first reviewing a handful of the best markets and wager types!

1. Match Betting

This remains the single most popular type of Rugby Union bet, while it’s also easier to understand from the perspective of new or novice punters.

Put simply betting, match betting is a form of outright wagering where you look to back the winner of a single game. This can be a Gallagher Premiership or a Six Nations clash, with the key being to make an informed selection based on the presented odds and your knowledge of the participating teams and their current form.

Match betting in Rugby Union also affords punter a competitive edge, as the draw is virtually eliminated as an option due to the nature of the game.

To put this into perspective, just five Six Nations clashes have ended in a draw during the previous decade, while only two occurred between the turn of the century and 2010.

2. Handicap Betting

While handicap betting isn’t suitable for every wager or market, it offers a viable way of enhancing odds and driving incrementally higher returns when used wisely. With this type of wagering, sportsbooks afford one selection in an event a ‘handicap’, which must be overcome for a particular bet to come in.

In rugby terms, let’s look ahead to France’s opening 6 Nations clash with Italy on February 6th, 2022. In this contest, France will be heavy favourites to beat the Azzurri, so bookies may apply a handicap of -10.5 points to Les Bleus from the outset.

This value will be subtracted from the final French points tally, creating a scenario where Les Bleus must prevail by 11 points or more for the wager to come in.

Given the difference in quality between these two sides, however, such a handicap enables you to lengthen the ante-post odds in your favour without overly compromising your chances of the wager being successful.

This is the key to handicap betting, as you’ll need to use it sparingly and only in instances where one team is heavily favoured to be an underdog (such as during the pool stages of the Rugby World Cup).

3. Over / Under Betting

Another popular market revolves around over/under betting, which describes a scenario where you bet on the total number of points to be scored in a particular game.

In this case, sportsbooks will determine a threshold for a selected match, and you’ll have to place a wager based on whether think the actual number of points scored will exceed or undercut this value.

For example, let’s say that a bookmaker sets the threshold at 45 points. At this, point you can use your knowledge of the sport and the two competing sides to determine whether this is a conservative or an ambitious forecast, before placing your bet accordingly.

Certainly, the average number of points and tries scored per Six Nations games has diminished gradually since the last format change in 2000, whereas this value is considerably higher during World Cups. So, you’ll need to tailor your over/under betting to suit the teams and tournaments in question, at least if you’re to bank a reliable and consistent return!

OK, we hear you ask, but how can get the most from these markets and optimise my returns as a punter? Here are some rugby betting tips to keep in mind!

1. Manage Your Bankroll Carefully

Regardless of which betting markets you target, it’s crucial that you manage your bankroll carefully and distribute this in a way that makes your money go further.

You should start by creating a responsible and manageable bankroll, and one that never exceeds an amount of money that you can realistically afford to lose. This can be set on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (depending on the frequency with which you gamble), but it must be adhered to closely at all time.

We’d also recommend tailoring your stake amounts to reflect the value proposition and odds of a particular bet.

For example, outcomes with short odds and a high probability of winning should command a higher initial stake to optimise returns. Conversely, you should wager smaller amounts on less fancied outcomes with extended odds, as this way you can minimise the risk of loss while still chasing an impressive return.

2. Use Knowledge to Create a Competitive Advantage

As we’ve already touched on, rugby (and particularly Rugby Union) remains one of the most popular sports in the UK and Ireland, with a wide range of betting markets available to punters.

However, it’s important to be selective when placing bets, as you should focus on the competitions and teams that you’re familiar with in order to get the most from your bankroll.

Make no mistake; this affords you a competitive advantage over sportsbooks, as you can utilise knowledge and understanding to identify genuine value in odds and maximise returns over time.

The same principle can be applied to real-time injury and suspension news, as this can have a significant bearing on the outcome of matches and their live odds.

3. Don’t Bet on Emotion

There’s a significant crossover between gambling and investment, particularly in terms of your mindset and the management of risk. This is definitely true when it comes to emotion, which can adversely affect your decision-making and trigger knee-jerk reactions that actively cost you money.

In sport betting, for example, there’s always a tendency to back your favourite team to win a particular game or tournament, regardless of their standing or the strength of their opponents.

You may even be encouraged to wager more on a team that you support, particularly when betting in-play after the side in question has made a positive start.

However, you should try to remove emotion where possible when engaging in rugby betting, as you instead look to focus on probability and the real-time odds.

Alternative Bookmakers for Betting on Rugby

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Looking at Rugby Formats and Competitions

Six NationsThe Six Nations is not only one of the most historic rugby tournaments, but also one of the longest-standing sports competitions in the world. The original incarnation of this international rugby league was first played in 1883 as the Home Nations, featuring England, Scotland ...
Rugby World CupRugby World Cup Betting Guide including Odds Comparisons and Betting Tips. Claim Free Bet Offers from the Top Sportsbooks. Complete Guide with Betting Markets

Of course, Rugby Union isn’t the only iteration of the broader sport, with Rugby League also retaining a cult following (especially in the North of England).

Certainly, Rugby League can trace its origins back to the north, after several players in Yorkshire were paid to appear at games in the 1890s (despite the Rugby Football Union rules prohibiting the sport from being played as a professional game at the time).

This led to a split and the formation of Rugby League in Yorkshire and Lancashire, with a number of differences having been introduced to help separate the two codes.

For example, a Rugby League side features 13 as opposed to 15 players, while two more substitutions (10) are allowed in this format of the sport. The scoring is different too, with a try in union worth five points and just four in Rugby League, with a subsequent conversion earning you two points in either code.

The nature of each game is fundamentally different, with a greater emphasis on ball carrying in Rugby League (during six attacking phases before the ball can be kicked) and Rugby Union noticeably more tactical and built around positional kicking.

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular rugby competitions across both codes, while looking at the most successful teams through history.

The Rugby Union World Cup

The Rugby Union World Cup is contested every four years, while it’s a tournament that has bridged the gap between the sport’s amateur era and the emergence of the professional game in 1995.

The last iteration of the tournament saw South Africa claim their third world crown, drawing them level with New Zealand (who won consecutive iterations in 2011 and 2015 and winning the inaugural competition in 1987.

The tournament has gradually expanded from 16 teams to 20, introducing several minnows to the competition and increasing the number of lop-sided matches in the process (the biggest ever win remains Australia’s 142-0 thrashing of Namibia in 2003.

The 2023 iteration will be hosted in France, with Les Bleus hoping to win their first RFU World Cup as they continue to emerge as a dominant force on the world stage and in turn would make for a great rugby world cup betting experiece.

The Rugby League World Cup

Interestingly, the Rugby League World Cup has a longer and richer history than the RFU alternative, with the first iteration hosted by France back in 1954. The French reached the inaugural final too, only to be overcome by a strong Great Britain side by a score line of 16-12.

The tournament has been held sporadically since its inception, appearing every two years between 1968 and 1972 and every four years since 2013 (although the 2021 iteration has yet to commence due to the coronavirus pandemic and the refusal of Australia and New Zealand to travel.

Only three sides have won this tournament, with Australia the single most dominant having triumphed on 11 separate occasions. They’ve also finished runner-up on three occasions, while Great Britain has claimed four world titles (the last in 1972) and claimed second place four times.

New Zealand recorded one triumph of its own in 2008, while the national also lost in the 2013 final to Australia in a 34-2 thrashing at Old Trafford.

The Six Nations

No list of this type would be complete without the 6 Nations, which has been contested in various formats since its inception all the way back in 1883.

Initially starting out as a ‘Home Nations Championship’ featuring England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the tournament expanded when France was invited to join in 1910. The Six Nations format was eventually borne in 2000, when Italy joined the fray after incremental improvements in their performance on the world stage.

England is the most successful Six Nations side, with 29 outright titles and 10 shared crowns since 1883. Defending champions Wales won their 28th outright crown earlier in 2021, while they’ve also shared the title on 11 different occasions.

There are also different trophies up for grabs throughout the Championship, including the coveted Calcutta Cup (which is awarded to the winner of Scotland’s clash with England).

The Energia All Ireland League

For Irish Rugby Union fans, the Energia All Ireland League is the cornerstone of the domestic sporting season.

Complete with six divisions, it’s the action in Division 1A that commands the most interest, with popular teams like Lansdowne, Young Munster, Ballynahinch and Garryowen currently competing in this league.

Betinireland listed sites like Bet365, William Hill and 888 Sport all feature a wealth of All Ireland League markets, from outright match betting to individual markets and the eventual winner of the league as a whole.

Tournament NameDate of Next TournamentHostProminent Team
RFU Rugby World Cup Friday 8th September – Saturday 28th October 2023 FranceFrance, England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand
2021/22 Gallagher Premiership17th September 2021 – 18th June 2022Various Leicester Tigers, Harlequins
The Six Nations Saturday 5th February – Saturday 26th March 2022 Various England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy
Energia All Ireland LeagueSaturday October 2nd 2021 – April 9th 2022 Various Young Munster, Lansdowne and Garry Owen
Super League XXVII (Rugby League)October – Wednesday 10th February 2022 Various Catalan Dragons, St. Helens, Wigan Warries and Salford Red Devils
The United Rugby (Pro14) Championship24th September 2021 – 25th June 2022 Various Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Zebre

Our Rugby Betting Offers

There are many sportsbooks out there that have bonuses that you can use on different rugby tournaments. However, the bonuses are not created equally, so you can find some of the best ones in the following table.

BookmakerOfferClaim
Bet365€50 worth of Bet Credits Claim Now
William HillPut Down a €10 Bet and Receive Free Bets Worth €40 Claim Now
888sportWager €10 on get €30 worth of free betsClaim Now
BetVictorMake a €10 bet and get free bet bonuses worth €30Claim Now
UnibetGet up to €40 back if you lose your first bet and €10 casino bonusClaim Now

A Brief History of Rugby

Ever since William Webb Ellis first picked up a football and set off charging towards the goal line in 1823, the sport of rugby has become one of the most popular and widely played in the UK.

By 1845, a universal set of rules for rugby football was written up for players and teams to abide by, with this followed by the ‘Cambridge Rules’ in 1848. These rules were formalized in 1863, when the new national governing body (The Football Association) codified a clear and concise set of guidelines that streamlined gameplay and eradicated the dangerous practice of ‘hacking’ at opponents.

As we’ve already touched on, the subsequent guidelines rolled out by the RFU in 1871 prohibited players from participating in exchange for money, with this precipitating a fallout with northern clubs in the 1890s and ushering in a new code in the form of Rugby League.

Despite this, Rugby Union remained an amateur game until 1995, when the code embraced professionalism and a raft of new tournaments were formed. This is thought to have triggered an increase in the sport’s popularity and participation rates, with a 2011 report highlighting that more than four-and-a-half million people were playing rugby union at this time (up by 19% from 2007).

Now, global participation rates are closer to six million, while female Rugby Union is also growing at an incredible exponential rate across the globe.

Your FAQs

We’ll close by answering some of your most frequently asked questions, pertaining to both rugby betting and iconic tournament such as the Rugby World Cup.

What Rugby Tournaments Can I Bet on Now?

Currently, several domestic tournaments are ongoing in the UK and Ireland, including the Gallagher Premiership and the Energia All Ireland League. You can also currently bet on the Pro14 United Rugby Championship, which sees sides from several different nations compete on a weekly basis.

When’s the Next Rugby World Cup?

The next Rugby World Cup will take place in France in 2023, with the tournament set to kick-off on Friday, 8th September. If you’re a Rugby League fan, the delayed 2021 World Cup is tentatively scheduled to take place in the autumn of 2022, although this date may be subject to change in the near-term.

What’s Prop Betting in Rugby?

So-called “prop” or “proposition” betting is central to in-play wagering, as it enables you to speculate on real-time events that may happen during a game, series or season. Popular prop bets in rugby include the next try scorer, the time of the next try and the first team to score in a particular game, and such wagers can be quite lucrative if you’re an informed and knowledgeable fan.

Who are the Favourites to Win This Years’ Gallagher Premiership?

While Harlequins claimed their second Gallagher Premiership title last season, they’re currently third favourites to repeat this success in 2021/22 (13/2). For now, the Exeter Chiefs (9/4) and Sale Sharks (9/1) are the bookies favourites to prevail overall, but it’s the current runaway leaders the Leicester Tigers who offer the most value at an average real-time price of 7/1.