Rugby is one of the most popular sports in the world and continues to grow every year as new fans become enthralled with the game.
Originating from the UK over 100 years ago, rugby union is enjoyed in Europe, Asia and Australasia. It is also growing in popularity in the United States, while Argentina’s rugby side is one of the best in the world.
Yet for many fans the idea of betting on rugby is still a new concept. In this guide, we will take you through the rules of rugby so you can better understand how to bet on rugby.
We’ll also introduce you to the biggest and best tournaments and teams on the planet! This way, you can then bet on rugby with confidence and knowledge of the game.
Rugby rules - The basics
Rugby is a contact sport played between two teams, with the aim of scoring points with a ball via a number of methods. Players will physically tackle each other to stop opponents scoring points, and the team in possession cannot pass the ball forward. This means there is always plenty of running and tackling to be done in rugby.
Teams try to increase their points tally by scoring tries, conversions and drop goals. Tries are the most valuable scoring method in rugby and therefore the hardest. Teams attempt to force the ball over the opponents’ try line, and make connection with the turf. Doing this earns the team five points and offers them an opportunity to ‘convert’ the try — a conversion adds an extra two points to their tally — by freely kicking the ball between two posts at the far end of the pitch.
Players can also kick a drop goal at any time during the game, to add an extra three points to their team’s tally. And the same goes for penalties, which are awarded when the opposition team have broken the rules and gives your side the chance to freely kick the ball between the posts. Penalties are also worth three points and can form the backbone of a team’s points tally.
Rugby laws are strict on how players can tackle, because if they get it wrong then it is dangerous. Players must not tackle around the head or neck. They can also not challenge with the base of their feet, where sharp metal studs could do serious damage.
Players are allowed to kick forwards but not pass forwards. This creates a territorial game whereby running is essential and tactical nous just as key. The main orchestrator on both sides is usually the fly-half, who will receive the ball most often when it needs to be kicked.
Teams are split into forwards and backs. The forwards make up the ‘pack’ of a team, which will dive into tackles and also form the scrum when required. They are usually bigger, heavier players with serious pushing power. The backs are the nimbler, more technically-gifted ball players who have speed on their side and will look to score the tries. However, they must also do their share of the defensive work.
As in most sports, match betting is one of the most popular forms of rugby betting. In match betting, you bet on one of the teams to win the game. Because rugby is such a high-scoring game, it is very rare you will witness a draw. Therefore, some match betting markets don’t offer the draw, while others will price a draw at around 40/1.
Handicap betting, or spread betting, is another important part of rugby betting. In handicap betting, one of the teams is a given a hypothetical advantage or disadvantage, with points being either given to them or taken away from them. This is a good market to bet on when one team is the heavy favourites to win. Let’s look at an example: in a World Cup game, New Zealand are playing Tonga. New Zealand are seen as a 13.5-point favourite in the match. You put your money on Tonga with a +13.5 handicap: this means that they start the game with an extra 13.5 points. If Tonga win the game or lose it with less than 13 points, you win your bet. If New Zealand win the game with 14 points or more, you lose your bet.
Over/under bets give you a number and a category, and you bet on whether this number is exceeded or not. So, let’s say that the cut-off point for the total number of points in a match is 41.5. If you bet over, you win if there are 42 points or over. If there’s 41 points or less, you lose.
Tournament and season bets
Outside of individual matches, there are also outright bets on tournaments and leagues. Outrights give you the chance to bet on, for example, the winner of a tournament. Here is your chance to bet on the winner of the Rugby World Cup or Six Nations Championship. Outrights may be the right bet for you, especially if you don’t have a clear favourite in the competition. When betting on a tournament winner, you have a team to support and follow throughout their games.
Equally, when betting on who will win a league, it is important to note that the odds can go up and down during the season. So making that bet at the start of the campaign may be smart, depending on how the team then fares a few weeks into the season.
Individual player betting
More and more fans are betting on individual players during rugby games. And the big market here is first tryscorer. Here, you bet on the player you think will score the opening try of a match. And this can be tricky. Usually the favourites are the backs, who can turn on the attacking flair in an instant. But the forwards can sometimes bulldoze their way to the try line — and their odds are usually much higher.
If you think the match is going to be won by whoever kicks the most points — which is often the case, especially at international level — then betting on the highest points scorer is a strong bet. Here, you’re likely to bet on one of the two fly-halves, assuming they are the players assigned to kick conversions and penalties.
You can also bet in the disciplinary markets here. Because rugby is such a physical game, there are sometimes punch-ups between the two teams, or a player can make a mistake when tackling. Players can be sin-binned, where they receive a yellow card and leave the field for 10 minutes. You can bet on the first yellow card of a game, while red cards are also part of the sport, although they are more rare.
Rugby Betting Odds for Dozens of Competitions
Unibet offers you betting odds for dozens of competitions. These include the most popular national and international leagues and cups in both rugby league and rugby union. You can bet easily on the Six Nations Championship, the Rugby World Cup and the Rugby Championship.
The Rugby World Cup comes around every four years and sees the very best players in rugby converge on the tournament. International rugby is a different beast from club rugby and is definitely the pinnacle of the sport.
The Six Nations Championship is an annual competition played between countries in the Northern Hemisphere. England, Ireland, France, Scotland, Wales and Italy battle it out for the Six Nations title each year.
There are also special trophies within the tournament which you can bet on. For example, there is a Triple Crown available to whichever team from England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales can beat the other three nations. England and Scotland battle it out for the Calcutta Cup each year. And if a team wins all five of their matches, the earn a Grand Slam accolade as well as the Six Nations title.
The Rugby Championship works a lot like the Six Nations, but comprises of four Southern Hemisphere teams. Argentina joined New Zealand, South Africa and Australia to make the annual event a four-team battle. The tournament runs from July to August each year.
With so many competitions to choose from, you can always find something to bet on at Unibet!
Rugby live stream and betting
Rugby is an exciting and explosive sport, which makes it perfect for watching on TV or live streams. It’s also the perfect sport for live betting. We offer rugby live streams and betting odds from various tournaments throughout the year. And here at Unibet we’re also on hand to provide the latest live betting markets during matches, so you never miss any of the action!
Live rugby betting with Unibet gives you multiple different markets to choose from. You can find over/under bets, handicap bets and basic 1X2 bets. There are also bets on the next try converted, the next drop goal and much, much more.