According to the lore of the sport, rugby was invented through a combination of innovation and frustration, or so the tale is told. William Webb Ellis was playing in a soccer match at Rugby school in 1823, and wasn't having much luck dribbling the ball. Fed up with his failures of the foot, Ellis took matters into his own hands - literally. He picked up the ball and ran with it - and out of that rule-breaking fit of pique, the game of rugby was born.
That's the story and rugby is sticking to it, so much so that the sport's most coveted prize, awarded to the champions of the Rugby World Cup, is the William Webb Ellis Trophy, and like that soccer ball Ellis allegedly grabbed so many years ago, every rugby player wants to hold it in their hands.
There are two types of rugby played in the world, rugby league and rugby union. The latter was the original game, and consists of two teams playing 15 aside and in continuous motion for each of the two 40-minute halves, stoppages only resulting from infractions of the rules, scoring plays, the ball going into touch, or in the case of a serious injury.
Rugby league was born from the desire for professionalism in the game. At one time, rugby union was an entirely amateur pursuit, though today that is no longer the case, and the world's top players are paid handsomely. But back in the day, those desiring a professional career opted to form rugby league. It's a 13-aside game that is closer to American football in that each side is allotted six downs in order to move the ball and score before they are required to turn it over to the other team.
In rugby union, a try is scored when the ball is carried across the try line and grounded in the end zone and is worth five points. Successfully kicking a conversion following a try adds a further two points, and penalty goals and drop goals - the latter scored by drop-kicking the ball through the uprights - are valued at three points each. In rugby league, tries garner four points, conversions and penalty goals are worth two points and a drop goal one point.
A third version of the sport - rugby sevens - is rapidly gaining popularity and this seven-aside version of rugby union was included as part of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Rugby Betting Odds
Rugby is a popular game to bet on, because there is continuous action and generally, it's high scoring with lots of attacking play. The sport also offers a wide variety of wagering options to rugby bettors. With match odds, you place a wager on the outcome of a game, choosing one team to win or playing the draw option. As with other sports, handicaps will be offered allowing you to play the favorite or the underdog. Totals betting is another possibility. A total for points scored is established by a sportsbook for each team, and you can either bet the over or the under on that total.
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Other rugby betting options include:
First Scoring Play - As the title implies, you are wagering on what type of play will open the scoring - try, penalty, or drop goal. Knowing which team will receive the opening kickoff is vital here, because that will be the team with the first chance to have possession of the ball.
First Try Scorer or Team - A slight variation on the previous wager, you bet on which team will be the first to ground the ball for a try, and for better odds, you can also bet on which player will score the game's first try.
Highest Scoring Half - This is a three-way wager. You bet on which half will produce the most points, the first or the second half. Or you can go with Option 3, that it will be a tie and the same number of points will be produced in each half.
Double Bet - You are wagering on two separate outcomes in the same game - which team will be leading at the half, and which team will be ahead at full time.
Number of Tries - A two-way market option which requires you to speculate on the number of tries to be recorded during the entire match. The sportsbook sets a line of the number of tries to be scored in the game, and you either bet yes or no. Some bookmakers also offer this wager on each team's try total.
Winning Margin - You are betting on how much one team will have defeated the other by full time. In games where there is a prohibitive favorite, this tends to be a popular wager, because it offers a lucrative return.
Tournament Betting - When major international events are contested, bookmakers will offer future wagering on which nation will emerge as champion and which player will record the most tries in the competition.
Rugby Betting Tips
There are a number of popular competitions that are worthy of your betting dollar. At the top of this list is the World Cup. Held every four years, it operates similar to soccer's World Cup, with qualifying rounds leading up to the 20 teams that earn their way to the tournament.
First held in 1987, New Zealand has won three World Cup titles, with South Africa and Australia accounting for two apiece and England winning the title once. France has played in three World Cup finals and lost them all. Argentina (bronze in 2007) is the only Western Hempishere nation to earn a medal. Canada reached the quarter-finals in 1991.
The Six Nations pits the top six rugby nations in Europe - England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales - against each other in an annual round-robin tournament. The Rugby Championship is an annual competition between Australia, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand.
In rugby union, the most prominent club-level competition is the Aviva Premiership, featuring the teams from England. Australia's National Rugby League offers the top rugby league competition on the planet.
Looking to bet on rugby? No matter you favorite type of rugby - union or league - or level of interest, from international test matches to club competitions, all of our above partner sportsbooks offereing extensive wagering opportunities. And isn't it more fun to watch when you've got a stake in the game?