Rugby Union Betting 2
Rugby union falls into two categories, with the majority of betting action focusing on the international game while domestic rugby has tended to be a niche market.
There are three sections to the international calendar - springtime in Europe is Six Nations time, in the summer the action moves to the other side of the world with European teams on tour plus the Tri-Nations, then in the autumn it's the northern hemisphere's turn to play host.
With games few and far between there is often little continuity of form to help us and line-ups can change dramatically. And in addition, apart from the Six Nations and Tri-Nations, the matches pit teams at different stages of their season against each other. In contrast, the domestic scene has teams in action week after week and running parallel in terms of preparation.
Individual tastes will dictate which part of the game you will focus on - and as ever you do need to specialise - but my own preference is for the club game ahead of internationals precisely because there is more regular action and form is easier to follow and more reliable. The main betting events are the English Premiership, the Celtic League, the Heineken European Cup and the southern hemisphere's Super 12.
Each competition has its own format and it is important to understand the set-up when placing ante-post bets. Most firms bet on who will top the table at the end of the regular season in the Premiership and Super 12, and then open a book on post-season play-offs, but others bet only on the Grand Final, so make sure of the terms when you place a bet. And bear in mind that teams approach the season differently when there are play-offs to be won. In the Super 12 the team finishing top of the table won the final every year from 2000 to 2003. In England, where the final is played at a neutral venue, that has only been the case once in the four years since the Grand Final was introduced. The play-off concept has encouraged some of the best teams not to expend their energy on finishing top of the league but rather to focus on timing their run and hit form at the end of the season.