How To Bet On Rugby Union

Rugby Union Betting Guide

Rugby Union is a game that is incredibly easy to bet on with games from the club circuit to the World Cup usually available to put some money on.

The Rugby World Cup is the biggest event in the rugby calendar with the competition bringing together all of the very best teams in the world to battle it out for supremacy, with the Webb-Ellis Cup and rugby immortality the reward for the winner.

While the rules of rugby may not be quite as simple as that of football or other sports, meaning that you don’t have the knowledge to explain the difference between a ruck and a maul, or why the referee has given a penalty at the scrum (something is seems even the ref doesn’t know sometimes!), it is still very easy to bet on the game.

In this How To Bet, we will run through some of the more popular markets and how utilise them in your rugby betting, with our expert writers willing giving you a helping hand in learning about the game.

Read on below for a complete rugby union betting guide.

Rugby Union Betting Guide

Match Winner

The simplest market in the game. Here, you simply back the side you feel will win the match, it is as easy as that. This market is best utilised when two teams are quite evenly-matched. If it is difficult to pick a winner from the two, such as in a match between Australia and Wales, then the odds on offer will hold more value, whereas backing England against Tonga will see Tonga offer huge value, but only because England will be massive favourites.


This market is a way of backing a favourite in the game, usually with better value. Simply put, you back a team with a handicap of either minus points or plus points to win the game. For example, if you want to back New Zealand to beat South Africa, you can back them with a handicap of -9 points, which means that if the All Blacks win by 8 points or less, then your bet will lose, while if they win, for example, 25-10, then your bet will win. You can also use it the other way, and if you back South Africa +9 and they lose 16-13, then your bet will still win because you backed the side with a handicap of +9. 


In this market, the bettor is able to back the team they feel will be ahead at half-time, and the team they feel will lead at full-time. This can prove very valuable if you correctly predict a minnow leading the favourite at half-time, only to then lead at full-time. It can also offer massive value if you back the underdog to lead at half-time and then full-time. For example, if Wales are playing Fiji, you can back Fiji/Wales, which simply means you think the Fijians will lead at half-time only for Wales to end the contest as the winners.

Winning Margin

This market gives the punter the chance to back how many points they think a certain team will win by. Backing a side to win by 1-10 points, 11-20 points, 21-30 points and so on can offer very good value as the game of rugby is an exceptionally unpredictable one. If you are able to put money on the correct outcome, it can offer a good return, while if you are feeling particularly confident, you can back a side to win with a smaller margin for error, so instead of back South Africa to beat Scotland by 1-10 points, you can back them to win by 4-7 points.

Team To Score First

Here, the bettor chooses which side he feels will be the first on the scoreboard. Unlike football, which only has one way of scoring, rugby players can open the scoring via a try, a penalty or a drop goal, meaning that a side can be pushing for a try early on, only to decide to take the three points from a penalty. This market can be an unpredictable one, and backing the correct side to score first is not always easy, especially if the underdog in this market is given an early penalty in their own half which they give to a kicker who excels in long-range shots at the posts.

Highest Scoring Half

This market gives bettors the opportunity to back which half they feel will see the most points. The first few games of the Rugby World Cup usually see a more cagey first-half, which is then followed by a slightly more open second-half as the trailing side looks to ensure they do not fall to an opening day defeat. Therefore, backing a higher scoring second-half may be intelligent, although rugby is a game that can surprise, with the first-half seeing big scores only for the points to dry up in the second 40.

Read more: Official rugby union website

First Try Converted

Here, the bettor can predict whether the first try of the game will be converted or not. A conversion being nailed first time around is usually the option with shorter odds, but if a team is to score in the corner, then backing the side to not add the extras often offers good value. 

Sending Off In Match 

This market simply allows a bettor to predict whether there will be a sending off in a match. Rugby is a sport of extreme physicality, and often it can boil over, with cheap shots at the bottom of a ruck, late tackles or last second tries sometimes sparking mass brawls, which can then lead to cards being dished out, with the colour of those cards up to the discretion of the referee. 

How to bet on the Rugby World Cup

The next Rugby World Cup is just around the corner, with the tournament set to sweep across Japan, giving the country rugby fever. The fun is not just confined to the country itself, with a whole host of ways to bet on the competition bot before, and during the tournament. 

With the Rugby World Cup beginning on Friday, September 20th 2019, there is still time to do your research before the tournament starts. Being particularly keen is something that the bookmakers are all too willing to reward, with a glut of pre-tournament markets available to those that cannot wait for the latest instalment of the World Cup.

Outright Rugby World Cup Betting Markets

World Cup Winner 

Everything you need to know about the market is is explained in the name. Here, you will be betting on who you think will be lifting the Webb-Ellis trophy come the end of the tournament. New Zealand are, as always, the favourites to win, but that does not mean you can’t find a way to make a profit betting in this market. While the All Blacks have won the last two World Cups in a row, they do have a wobble in them at major tournaments. With the likes of England, Ireland, Wales and South Africa all ready and waiting to take advantage of New Zealand’s demise, betting on one of the four could see some good value. 

Name The Finalists 

This market allows you to put money on who you think will make it to the final of the tournament. Perhaps you cannot make your mind up between New Zealand and Wales to win, instead, you can back the two to be contesting the showpiece event come the end of the tournament. However, a word of warning, you may want to take some time to plot the team’s potential routes to the final, as if Wales and New Zealand will likely end up on the same side of the tournament tree, meaning they will play each-other in the semi-final, then it is obviously not worth putting money on the two to be in the final. 

To Finish Third 

In this market you are simply backing the side you think will finish in third place. In order to get to this point, a side must make it to the semi-finals before being beaten at this stage. That team then takes on the loser from the other semi-final to battle it out to finish in third. It is not really a game either side will want to play, with emotions sure to be tested after falling at the final hurdle before the final, but it invariably ends up being a a game in which both sides are fighting for their pride and the chance to end their World Cup on a winning note.

Continent of Winner 

Here you will be able to bet on the continent that the winning side comes from. With New Zealand and Australia both coming from Oceania, they are the clear favourites, but the likes of England, Wales and Ireland constitute part of the European force, meaning they offer good value in this market. It is important to note that every single World Cup bar the 2003 edition has been won by one of New Zealand, South Africa or Australia, with Martin Johnson and Sir Clive Woodward leading their England side into immortality with their 20-17 extra-time triumph over Australia in the final still the only time a side outside of the big three southern hemisphere teams has lifted the famous trophy.

Winning Hemisphere 

This market is much like backing a continent, only you are hedging your bets that little bit more. The Southern Hemisphere are the favourites as they have dominated the World Cup, with England’s triumph in 2003 the only time a Northern Hemisphere side has ever won the competition. However, Wales’ Grand Slam triumph and impressive 14 game winning-run coupled with the fact Eddie Jones’ England look to be peaking at the right time sees the North as a smart bet for this one, especially if Ireland can replicate the form they showed in the 2018 Six Nations which led to them beating New Zealand in Dublin at the end of that year.

Winning Pool

In this market you can put money on the Pool you think the winners will come from. Perhaps you feel that backing a team from Pool C, which contains England, France and Argentina offers particularly good value. You can therefore back that Pool to supply the winning team and reap the rewards if they lift the trophy. 

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Read more: Our latest rugby union tips and best bets