Rugby World Cup Betting – What Do You Need to Know?

Original banner featuring a rugby ball and boot followed by the words "Rugby World Cup 2023" next to the coat of arms of the event and the event sponsor "Coral"

2023 will see the 10th iteration of the Rugby Union World Cup, with this popular sporting franchise having started in earnest in 1987. Back then, co-hosts New Zealand were the first to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, with the Kiwis having gone on to win three titles overall.

This event regularly draws huge attendances, with the 2015 iteration in England watched live by a total of 2,477,805 million fans.

The upcoming 2023 competition is unlikely to buck this trend, with host nation France expected to put on a stellar show after holding the second-most watched tournament in history back in 2007. But who are the favourites to prevail in France, and what can this tournament’s prestigious history tell us about the future?

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Rugby World Cup Betting Tips for 2023

logo-of-rugby-world-cup-2023-France

Before we look ahead to the 2023 tournament (and glance back towards previous iterations), we thought we’d consider the most popular Rugby Union betting markets.

These markets will all be in play both before and during the World Cup, and they may help you to unlock value and optimise your potential returns.

  • Outright Betting: 20 teams will ultimately compete for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, although just a handful of these have a realistic chance of lifting the trophy. This creates an excellent opportunity for outright betting, as you look to back the eventual winner of the tournament ahead of their rivals. Defending champions South Africa may be a particularly popular pick amongst punters at present, while Australia, New Zealand and England also offer potential value.

"Our Top Tip: With the best teams having already confirmed their place at the tournament, now is the ideal time to back an outright winner. This is because the initial ante-post prices tend to be relatively long, while the favoured nations will only see their odds shorten as punters flock to back them."

  • Handicap Betting: Each of the four pools at the 2023 World Cup will feature seeded sides and unfancied qualifiers, creating the opportunity for some serious mismatches. Pool D will pit England against Samoa, for example, while New Zealand will take on a yet-to-be-confirmed African qualifier in Pool A. Both England and the Kiwis will be heavy, odds-on favourites to prevail here, but you can deploy handicap betting to lengthen the real-time odds without overly compromising your chances of winning.

"Our Top Tip: Handicap betting requires you to effectively give a points head-start to the unfancied team, creating a scenario where the favourites must win by a fixed margin for the wager to come in. So, try to set a viable handicap based on the respective quality of each side, while only deploying this type of bet in matches where there’s an overwhelming favourite."

  • Individual Player Betting: The Rugby World Cup is also home to several individual player markets, across both in-play and ante-post channels. The most common of these is the top points scorer in a particular match or the tournament as a whole, with those who take conversions and penalties (typically fly-halves due to the requirement for them to kick in open play) the most likely to claim this honour. Prolific wingers may also be considered, although their output may diminish as the tournament progresses and the matches become tighter.

"Our Top Tip: As we’ve already said, try to prioritise kickers when betting on the leading points scorers in a match or the tournament as a whole. When backing the leading tournament scorer, try to focus on teams that are likely to go deep into the competition and at least reach the semi-finals (refer to the draw to inform this decision further)"

  • Accumulator Betting: If we accept that the Pool stage of the tournament will create various mismatches, you may want to consider accumulator betting early in the competition. Simply select between four and six selections from specific matchdays or weeks within a single wager, building extended odds and potentially sizable payouts in the process. This is an ideal bet for rugby enthusiasts, who understand the sport and have some knowledge of the participating sides.

"Our Top Tip: As we’ve already suggested, you should focus on acca during the pool stage, while limiting the number of selections as much as possible. Also, try to feature heavy favourites in the wager, so that you can strike the ideal balance between risk and reward."

Rugby World Cup Betting Odds – The Early Favourites

Thanks to the high-profile nature of the Rugby World Cup, there’s already plenty of price data and ante-post odds being published by our approved sportsbooks.

We’ve detailed this comprehensively for the 10 most backed participants below, while also providing a brief profile of the three sides most fancied to lift the Webb Ellis trophy in 2023.

New Zealand (2/1)

Let’s start with the omnipotent New Zealand, who seem to start most iterations of the World Cup as favourites.

The Kiwis have lost just three of their last 19 games dating back to August 2019, with two of these defeats coming against Australia. However, the All Blacks have been in particularly ominous form of late, thumping the Aussies 33-25 in their recent Bledisloe Cup opener at Eden Park.

NZ produced a second-half blitzkrieg to build a commanding lead over their rivals, before shipping late tries to take some sheen off the final score. Ian Foster’s side extended their unbeaten run at Eden Park in the process, with the side having not lost at the Auckland venue since 1994.

With a typical combination of forward steel and fluid backs, New Zealand certainly look impressive as the 2023 tournament draws near. When you also consider that Southern Hemisphere sides have won eight of the previous nine World Cups, you wouldn’t bet against the All Blacks adding to this number soon!

France (11/4)

The French side has endured some turbulent times in the last few years, but their performance during the 2021 Six Nations highlighted a significant return to form for Les Blues.

Two early, flair-packed wins even raised hopes of a first French Six Nations triumph since 2010, but a narrow defeat to England at Twickenham and a subsequent loss at home to Scotland ultimately derailed their charge.

However, their stunning 32-20 win over eventual champions Wales showcased their immense ability, with the outstanding scrum-half Antoine Dupont at the heart of everything good that the side does.

Don’t forget, France will also be the host nation in 2023, and will bid to become the fourth host nation to lift the trophy since its inception.

England (4/1)

England endured an incredibly poor Six Nations this year, finishing fifth overall and losing three times to home rivals Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

The losses to Wales and Ireland were particularly heavy too, with many suggesting that their forensic coach Eddie Jones could lose his job.

However, Jones is expected to lead a rebuild and take the Three Lions to the 2023 World Cup, before potentially coming the next British and Irish Lions coach in time for the next southern hemisphere tour in 2025.

The good news is that both Jones and England have tremendous pedigree and experience, with the side having finished as runners-up in the 2019 tournament. If they can rediscover their ability to grind out tight wins in games, then they may offer some genuine value to punters at an average price of 4/1.

A Breakdown of the Best Live Odds

Team

Bet365

888Sport

Unibet

William Hill

New Zealand

2/1

2/1

9/4

2/1

France

3/1

11/4

4/1

11/4

England

4/1

4/1

4/1

4/1

South Africa

11/2

5/1

6/1

11/2

Ireland

14/1

14/1

14/1

14/1

Australia

12/1

10/1

12/1

12/1

Wales

16/1

14/1

10/1

14/1

Argentina

28/1

28/1

25/1

33/1

Scotland

50/1

50/1

18/1

50/1

As we can see from this breakdown of these odds, Unibet is currently offering some slightly enhanced odds for the most favoured nations. This is especially true in the case of New Zealand and defending champions South Africa, so it’s important to keep this in mind when planning an ante-post bet on the outright winner of the tournament.

Conversely, Bet365 and 888sport are offering more favourable odds on some of the outside contenders, especially Scotland and 2021 Six Nations winners Wales. For now, we’d recommend monitoring these prices and seeing how they evolve in the coming months.

Best World Cup Betting Offers

Another reason for keeping your powder dry is the impact of World Cup-inspired welcome bonuses and rugby free bets, many of which will be marketed in the immediate build-up to the tournament.

Rest-assured, we’ll publish these offers here just as soon as they’re made available, so you can cash and get the most out of your Rugby World Cup betting experience!

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 any Horse Race and you will be Given 6 x €5 Free BetsClaim Now
BetVictorMake a €10 bet and get free bet bonuses that are worth €30Claim Now
UnibetGet up to €40 back if you lose your first race bet and €10 casino bonusClaim Now

2023 Rugby World Cup Fixtures and Pools

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A total of 20 teams will compete at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, 13 of which have qualified automatically for the tournament.

This leaves seven spots available to successful qualifiers from around the world, although these participants won’t be confirmed until closer to the tournament.

Here’s a breakdown of the pool groupings and the associated fixtures, along with their scheduled dates and the venue where the match will be replayed.

Pool A Fixtures

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  • New Zealand
  • France
  • Italy
  • Americas 1
  • Africa 1
DateTeamsStadium
08-Sep-23France v New ZealandStade de France, Saint-Denis
09-Sep-23Italy v Africa 1Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne
14-Sep-23France v Americas 1Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
15-Sep-23New Zealand v Africa 1Stadium, Toulouse
20-Sep-23Italy v Americas 1Allianz Riviera, Nice
21-Sep-23France v Africa 1Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
27-Sep-23Americas 1 v Africa 1Groupama Stadium, Décines-Charpieu
29-Sep-23New Zealand v ItalyGroupama Stadium, Décines-Charpieu
05-Oct-23New Zealand v Americas 1Groupama Stadium, Décines-Charpieu
06-Oct-23France v ItalyGroupama Stadium, Décines-Charpieu

Pool B Fixtures

image-featuring-pool-B-of-countires-of-the-2023-rugby-world-cup
  • South Africa
  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Asia / Pacific 1
  • Europe 2
DateTeamsStadium
09-Sep-23Ireland v Europe 2Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
10-Sep-23South Africa v ScotlandStade Vélodrome, Marseille
16-Sep-23Ireland v Asia/Pacific 1Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
17-Sep-23South Africa v Europe 2Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
23-Sep-23South Africa v IrelandStade de France, Saint-Denis
24-Sep-23Scotland v Asia/Pacific 1Allianz Riviera, Nice
30-Sep-23Scotland v Europe 2Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
01-Oct-23South Africa v Asia/Pacific 1Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
07-Oct-23Ireland v ScotlandStade de France, Saint-Denis
08-Oct-23Asia/Pacific 1 v, Europe 2Europe 2, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille

Pool C Fixtures

image-featuring-pool-C-of-countires-of-the-2023-rugby-world-cup
  • Wales
  • Argentina
  • Fiji
  • Europe 1
  • Final Qualifier Winner
DateTeamsStadium
09-Sep-23Australia v Europe 1Stade de France, Saint-Denis
10-Sep-23Wales v FijiMatmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
16-Sep-23Wales v Final Qualifier WinnerAllianz Riviera, Nice
17-Sep-23Australia v FijiStade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne
23-Sep-23Europe 1 v Final Qualifier WinnerStadium, Toulouse
24-Sep-23Wales v AustraliaGroupama Stadium, Décines-Charpieu
30-Sep-23Fiji v Europe 1Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
01-Oct-23Australia v Final Qualifier WinnerStade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne

Pool D Fixtures

image-featuring-pool-D-of-countires-of-the-2023-rugby-world-cup
  • England
  • Japan
  • Argentina
  • Samoa
  • Americas 2
DateTeamsStadium
09-Sep-23England v ArgentinaStade Vélodrome, Marseille
10-Sep-23Japan v Americas 2Stadium, Toulouse
16-Sep-23Samoa v Americas 2Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
17-Sep-23England v JapanAllianz Riviera, Nice
22-Sep-23Argentina v SamoaStade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne
23-Sep-23England v Americas 2Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
28-Sep-23Japan v SamoaStadium, Toulouse
30-Sep-23Argentina v Americas 2Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
07-Oct-23England v SamoaStade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
08-Oct-23Japan v ArgentinaStade de la Beaujoire, Nantes

The top two sides from each group will progress to the quarter-final stage, with the winners of every pool playing a runner-up from another. Winners will then progress to the semi-finals, with the knockout stages continuing ahead of the final at the Saint-Denis Stadium on October 28th.

There’s also a ‘bronze final’ or third-placed match the previous day on October 27th, where the losing semi-finalists do battle with one another.

The History of Rugby World Cup

Interestingly, the Rugby World Cup can be traced back to the amateur era of the game, with the inaugural tournament hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand in 1987. There was no qualifying process prior to the tournament, with the 16 competing sides comprising the seven members of the IRFB and the remainder by invitation.

New Zealand eventually claimed the first trophy on home soil, before Australia prevailed in England in 1991. The 1995 tournament was significant as it heralded a historic home win for South Africa, just three years after the side officially returned to the global sporting arena after dismantling the apartheid system.

The 1999 iteration was the first of the professional era, with Australia claiming their second title following a final win over France (who finished runners-up for the second time) in an extended tournament. They lost their title in 2003 to a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired England, however, despite thumping Namibia 142-0 in a group-stage game to set a tournament record for the single biggest win.

The Three Lions also reached the 2007 final despite being considerably weakened, losing by 15-6 to a South African side that won its second crown. Then, a truly great New Zealand side took centre stage, becoming the first side to win consecutive tournaments (at home in 2011 and in England four years later).

The last tournament in 2019 saw South Africa claim their third title to draw level with the All Blacks, as the Springboks overpowered England 32-12 in the final. As we’ve already touched on, this was the eighth time in nine tournaments that a team from the southern hemisphere has won the Webb Ellis Trophy, with SA, New Zealand and Australia winning eight titles between them.

Your FAQs Answered

Our guide is almost complete, but there’s just time to provide some much-needed answers to your most frequently asked questions.

You’ll find these below, but don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries that you’d like to resolve.

Who are the Favourites to Win the 2023 Rugby World Cup?

Three-time winners New Zealand (2/1) are the favourites to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup, although host nation France are much fancied at a price of 11/4. England can be backed at a price of around 4/1, while Six Nations winners Wales are available at around 16/1.

When’s the Best Time to Bet on an Outright Winner?

Currently, the ante-post prices on an outright winner are slightly extended, while we know that the favourites are certain to compete in the 2023 tournament. While you may want to subsequently place an early outright wager, however, just remember that sportsbooks tend to run tournament-inspired bonus offers and free bets in the weeks just prior to the start date on September 8th, 2023.

Who are the Star Players to Watch in 2023?

French fly-half Antoine Dupont is already a national hero, but this diminutive and creative back has the potential to become a living legend if he inspires his countrymen to a home victory and inaugural World Cup win in 2023. New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett is another performer who likes to dominate games on the world stage, while the 28-year-old Welsh winger George North will could also deliver in 2023.