Updated Updated: August 29, 2019

Rugby betting guide for UK punters

If you’ve ever thought of betting on rugby, there’s no time like the present. The hugely popular and widely played contact sport is a top betting option for punters throughout the UK and beyond. It’s not quite as big as football just yet, but it’s still a pretty sizeable sport in its own right with a dedicated and steadily growing fan base. There are countless opportunities for betting on the sport both online and offline. With matches held throughout the year and quite a few big tournaments, there are plenty of betting opportunities for you to take advantage of.

Here you’ll find everything you need to know about betting on rugby. Learn about the two main versions of the sport, where you can get your bets placed and what some of the most common types of bet for rugby games are. This guide should give you a good overview of betting on rugby. Have a read through it and get ready to start placing some rugby bets!

Rugby Union vs Rugby League

There used to be a time when rugby was classed as a single game: rugby football. Nowadays, however, there are two main versions of the game, rugby union and rugby league, that have plenty of similarities but quite a few noticeable differences as well.

Rugby league is played with teams of 13, with a total of 10 substitutions possible in a match. As for rugby union, teams are made of up 15 players, with only seven substitutions per match possible. The number of points awarded for certain actions differ. In rugby union, for example, a try is worth five more points than it is in rugby league; penalties are worth two points in rugby league, while in rugby union they’re worth three.

The main difference between the two can be seen whenever tackles are made. In rugby union, once a player’s been tackled he has to release the ball; any player can then take it. If the ball happens to go out of play, the game restarts with a six-player scrum. However, in rugby union, a tackled player must drop the ball and kick it back to one of his teammates. Should the ball go out of play, the game restarts with a lineout, rather than a scrum

Of the two types, or ‘codes’, it is rugby union that’s by far the most popular around the world. It’s widely played in a large number of Commonwealth countries and is very often favoured over rugby league. Rugby union generates much more income and viewers for its matches and, as a result, is the more popular option when it comes to betting on rugby.

Both codes have major international tournaments. For rugby union, there is the Six Nations Championship, the Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup, with the sport also played at the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. As for rugby league, there’s the Four Nations tournament and the Rugby League World Cup. In the UK, it’s rugby union that’s the more dominant of the two codes by far.

Where You Can Bet On Rugby

Pretty much all online sportsbooks and brick-and-mortar bookies have betting opportunities available for rugby. Even though rugby union is the bigger of the two codes, you should still be able to find rugby league betting opportunities easily enough.

No matter what time of year it is, there should be no shortage of rugby matches and tournaments for you to bet on. The major international tournaments take place annually or every few years, depending on the event. Whenever there’s not a big tournament on, you should find plenty of smaller matches and club competitions from around the world to bet on.

As with most other sports, you’ll find that a lot of online sportsbooks offer rugby live betting as well as the standard pre-match betting. With pre-match betting, you can place your bets days, weeks or even months before a match takes place. With live betting, you get your bets placed as the actual match is taking place. Many punters enjoy live betting because it’s a lot more thrilling and interactive. They make their decision based on how the game’s going so far, yet for some matches, you just never know how the rest of it’s going to play out. There’s nothing quite like placing a bet once a match has started and watching the match live to see whether your bet’s going to win or not.

Types Of Rugby Bets

As with any other sport or racing event, the range of bets you can place is large and diverse. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most common bets you can place on rugby:

Double Result

This is made up of two individual bets. The first has you predict which team will have the highest number of points at half-time. For the second, you’re predicting which team has the most points by the end of the match. Rugby matches last 80 minutes, with half-time taking place after the first 40 minutes of play.

Draw No Bet

Pick a team to win and if the team goes on to win the match, you’ll be paid accordingly. If the match results in a draw, your bet will be returned to you.

Each Way Bet

This type of bet can be placed on rugby tournaments. Half of your wager goes towards a certain team winning the tournament outright. The other half goes towards your chosen team placing. Your team has to finish in a predetermined position (usually just second) for your place bet to pay out.

First Scoring Play

A bet that involves predicting how the very first points in a match will be scored. The first points in a match can be scored by a drop goal, a penalty or a try.

Highest Scoring Half

There are three options available for this bet. You can bet on the highest number of points being scored in the first half of a match or the second half of the match; you can also bet on both halves having an equal number of points scored.

Match Betting

This is one of the simplest types of rugby bet you’ll come across. For this bet, you’re simply predicting which team will win an individual match or a whole tournament. Single match bets are considered safer and tend to have smaller payouts. As for tournament bets, these are sometimes riskier, since your chosen team will have to win several matches in order to win the tournament. These bets tend to have much higher payouts, especially for the bigger events.

Number Of Tries

The bookmaker will decide on a number of tries to be scored in the match. You’re betting on whether this exact number of tries will be scored or not.


For this bet, you’re predicting which player will score the first try and which of the two teams will win the match. The bet only pays out if both your predictions come true.

Team To Score First

As the name of this bet suggests you’re betting on which of the two teams is the first to score. The team that kicks off usually has a slight advantage. Therefore, if you’re going to place this bet you might want to wait until it’s announced which team will be kicking off.

Team To Score Last

This works just like the bet mentioned directly above, except you’re betting on which team scores the match’s very last point.

Time Of First Try

The bookmaker will set a time frame. You’re betting on whether the first try of the match is scored within that time frame or not.

To Win Both Halves

For this bet to pay out, your chosen team needs to score more points than the opposing team in both halves of the match.

Top Try Scorer

This a popular bet in rugby tournaments. For this bet, you pick a player from any team. If your chosen player scores more tries than any other player in the whole tournament, you’ll win.

Total Team Tries

Pick one of the two teams and then predict whether that team will score more or fewer tries than a given target.


Even though rugby is a hugely popular sport and is popular with punters, it can be quite predictable. The rugby betting odds aren’t usually that varied compared with other sports. If one of the teams is considerably stronger and more experienced than the other, that team can have an advantage. The way the game works, a team with an advantage has a very strong chance of winning and can actually go on to win by quite a large margin.

If it’s easy to predict which team will win, punters won’t find rugby betting all that attractive. That’s why you’ll find handicap bets offered at quite a lot of bookies and online sportsbooks. Handicaps work as follows: the starting score is adjusted so the weaker team has an advantage. The score isn’t adjusted officially; it’s done by the bookies and the handicap for a match can vary depending on where you’re betting.

For some handicap bets, the bookmaker might start the team with the advantage off on -5 points and the other team on 0 points. For the stronger team to win, it’s got to earn at least six points (or five to tie), providing the other team doesn’t score any points. This puts the stronger team at a slight disadvantage since they’ve got to earn a few extra points; the weaker team’s basically given a head start. You’ll find some handicap bets give the weaker team some extra points to start the match off with, e.g. +5, with the weaker team at 0 points or even a negative number of points.

Most handicap bets can have one of three outcomes: Team A wins, Team B wins or it’s a draw. You’ll find some handicap bets that are created in such a way that it’s not possible for any draws to take place. Therefore, for these bets, you’re only betting on Team A winning or Team B winning. These bets are generally favoured by punters since they remove the chances of draws occurring. You should find that handicap betting in rugby is available at most online sportsbooks.

General Betting Tips

If you’re after some rugby betting tips, we’ve got you covered. The best tip we can give is that being knowledgeable about the sport is a huge help. In other words, the more you know about it, the better. The same applies for any kind of sport you’re looking to bet on. With rugby, it helps to know about the tournament, who the players in the different teams are and how the teams have fared in recent events.

Even though rugby is very much a team sport, a lot of the time there are one or two players who have contributed more to recent successes than others. Should a star player have an injury, this can have a big effect on a match, especially if the substitution plays in a noticeably different way. Sometimes the team can perform just as well without a star player; sometimes there’s a noticeable effect in the team’s performance.

There’s also the weather to think about. Generally speaking, hot, dry weather tends to result in matches with higher scores. On the other hand, matches played in the rain usually have lower scores and are often more unpredictable. Then there’s the team’s schedule. Rugby by quite a physically challenging sport; if a team’s played a lot of matches recently, this can have a negative impact on their performance. If they haven’t played much recently, they may well be in better form and less prone to injury.

You should be up to date with all the latest news and goings-on to do with your chosen team and any tournaments they’re taking part in. Keep an eye out for any sort of change, big or small, that can have an impact on how the team performs.

It’s also worth bearing in mind which type of rugby is being played. For rugby league, matches often have a higher number of points scored; rugby union games, on the other hand, can be somewhat closer. Of course, you’ll want to shop around to find the best online sportsbook to get your bets placed. Whether you’re after rugby union betting, rugby league betting or both, it’s a good idea to compare what bets and odds different sites have to offer. You may well find that a site you’re currently signed up to doesn’t have as many options as a new site that’s just launched. 

18 Age Verification

We require users to be 18 years old or over, please confirm your age.

Confirm Please tick the checbox to confirm age.