A history of rugby betting

Rugby betting certainly enjoys a fair bit of popularity, especially with the Super Rugby season spanning a duration of roughly six months, giving punters ample time to bet on all the rugby action.

On top of that there’s also two major tournaments in the international Rugby Union calendar every year namely, the Rugby Championship which involves New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina and the Six Nations Championship which pits England, Ireland, Wales, France, Scotland and Italy against each other.

Not forgetting the IRB Rugby World Cup that pits the 20 best teams against each other every four years. The winner of the RWC is awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup named after William Webb Ellis who according to lore invented rugby in the market town of Rugby located in Warwickshire, England.

A British historian described this historic event of 1823 as follows: “with a fine disregard for the rules of the game as played in his time, William Webb Ellis first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus originating the distinctive feature of the rugby game."

Apparently while playing in a traditional football match at Rugby School, Ellis had caught the ball and, instead of moving backwards giving himself enough room to either kick the ball up field or to place it for a kick at goal, he began to run with it, thus creating Rugby Football.

This tale has since been discredited but the move was subsequently incorporated into the Rugby Football rule book in 1841. A few years later in 1845, the first written set of Rugby Football rules were put together.  

It is worth noting that the Blackheath Club was the first club to leave the Football Association opting to switch to rugby in 1863 with the Rugby Football Union established in 1871. In the same year the first recognised international rugby match was played between England and Scotland and six years later the number of players per side was reduced from 20 to 15.

The game continued to flourish across the globe and in 1992, the IRB increased the points awarded for tries from four to five points in order to circumvent the prevalent kicking style and promote running rugby in its place.

The Rugby Union variant, Rugby Sevens has steadily gained traction amongst punters and fans with the development of the Hong Kong Sevens in the 1976 and with the introduction of the IRB Seven World Series in 1999 interest piqued with the World Series now being held every season. 

The IRB Seven World Series features the 2016/17 season winners, the Blitzboks, with the season being played over 11 rounds usually starting in December and concluding in the middle of the year.

Betting on all variants of rugby have escalated with the advent of online sportsbooks and the derestriction of online sports betting across a number of jurisdictions.

Punters are given the opportunity of betting on all the major international rugby matches as well as the various championships played in the Rugby Union as well as the Rugby League.

With an extensive variety of bets available, rugby punters can bet on any conceivable eventuality of a particular match whether it’s predicting how the first points will be scored, which team will score first, which team will win a specific half, will the total points be below or above a certain threshold and much more.

An interesting and popular betting market available in rugby betting is the handicap. Handicap bets serve to level the playing field when a considerably stronger team play against a weaker team. The 3-way betting odds on a match like this are usually so short that it doesn’t offer any real value to the punter, but with a handicap bet the punter can select a specific amount of points to either add or subtract from the selected team’s final points. The punter will win his bet if the selected team manage to still beat their opponents despite the appointed handicap.

Live in-play or in-running betting has also become quite popular as it allows the punter to place bets while the rugby match is being played live. This offers the punter a unique insight into a team’s performance, their strengths as well as their weaknesses and gives the punter the opportunity of taking advantage of an unforeseen circumstance.

With such a vast amount of rugby betting options it’s no wonder that rugby betting is so popular and that it makes up a substantial amount of all online sportsbooks’ turnover.