Rugby Union Betting
Betting on Rugby Union requires all the skills and disciplines needed in any other sport, plus one extra - infinite patience. Good bets don't come along as often as you might want, and there are often long, frustrating spells when hours of research lead nowhere. The key is to be ever-ready, to recognise a value bet early and jump in.
There are two reasons why bets can be thin on the ground. The first is that there aren't that many fixtures. Even at the busiest period in spring, when the Premiership, Celtic League and Super 12 league seasons are in full swing and the Six Nations is up and running, most bookmakers will price up a maximum of 18 domestic matches each weekend, with the possibility of three international fixtures thrown in. Compare that with football, where you will find around 150 matches across the UK and Europe on various coupons every weekend.
The other thorn in the side is that the staple diet of rugby wagers is the handicap bet. Match betting is becoming increasingly popular, but for the most part we will be backing a team at 5-6 or 10-11 with a start of, say ten points, or giving up five. That means you are taking on an odds-compiler who has spent his week researching and analysing to find the exact margin at which the two teams become, in his view, inseparable.
Bookmakers know that the most successful rugby punters are the ones who have learned to wait. Paddy Power's compiler Brian Cusack, a former pro with Bath and Richmond, summed it up perfectly when he told me: "If the handicap is right, we don't see any money. If it's wrong we get filled in."
If it sounds off-putting, don't give up. There are aspects of the sport which favour the punter, and if you learn to be patient and research your market, there is money to be made.