Although there is an urban myth that rugby originates from the time when William Webb Ellis allegedly ‘picked up the ball and ran with it’… there is some doubt as to whether the sport really did start at Rugby School in 1823.
This year also marked the first international between England and Scotland (giving rise to the later Calcutta Cup contested by the two countries).
The next 20 years saw the spread of the 15-a-side game to Australia and New Zealand… and between 1905 and 1908 both those nations, as well as South Africa, sent touring teams to the Northern Hemisphere.
By 1886 the International Rugby Board (IRB) was in place.
And so (with the first international involving France played in 1905) the map of modern rugby union was largely created in the space of a little over 30 years.
These countries now make up the basis of the annual international competitions held in each hemisphere… the Rugby Six Nations championship (North) and the Tri-Nations (South).
In recent years emerging rugby playing nations have included the USA, Argentina, Italy and Japan along with the South Pacific nations of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji…
The sport can now boast truly global appeal with the recent 2011 Rugby World Cup including some 20 countries, all the above plus the likes of Russia, Namibia and Canada.
Played in some of the most iconic sporting stadia in the world… Twickenham, the Millennium Stadium and Murrayfield… Newlands, the ANZ Stadium and Eden Park, rugby is one of the most popular team sports in the world.
Rugby union at club level…
As rugby has moved into the professional era – the sports officially became ‘open’ in 1995 – the nature and structure of the game has changed.
In truth, it had been considered rather more than amateur in the years running up to the change announced by the IRB, which removed restrictions on the payment of players.
This coincided with the first rugby European Cup (or Heineken Cup) as teams from the four home nations, plus France, Italy and Romania, competed in a continental club competition. Toulouse being the first winners of the trophy in 1996.
Domestically there is now the Premiership in England (including teams like Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and Northampton Saints)…
Along with the Celtic League which incorporates the top teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy. Teams like Munster, Ulster and Leinster… the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues have dominated this competition.
France has the Top 14 (Toulouse, Stade Francais, Biarritz, Toulon etc)… and there are thriving club competitions in South Africa (Currie Cup), New Zealand (ITM Cup) and Australia (Super Rugby – which combines all three nations).
Modern rugby union is littered with top quality players – Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O’Driscoll, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw – and continues to provide tremendous sporting occasions at club and international level.
What markets are available in rugby union betting?
The nature of rugby (i.e. potentially high scoring matches and wide margins of victory) give it a certain characteristic as opposed to other team sports like football or cricket.
Of course, for those who like rugby betting there are the usual markets which cover the outright match result or overall tournament winner.
Other more readily recognisable markets (for those familiar with football betting) include the Half-Time/Full-Time result, highest scoring half and first try-scorer… not goalscorer!
In fact, a rugby betting tipster can trade on many similar markets to those used in relation to soccer matches… as there are common elements to both sports.
But the frequency of high scoring matches added to potentially big victories, or defeats, by teams, make it very attractive to rugby handicap betting (giving team A a notional points lead, or deficit, ahead of their match with team B).
As mentioned, rugby provides a lot of interest for handicap bets… and this means you can back a team which loses the match… but still make a profit.
And that’s always a good thing!
Say, for example, you back the Sale Sharks (plus 10 points on the handicap) against Saracens and they lose 16-22 (i.e. by 6 points)… you would still win on the handicap.
That’s quite easy to explain, Sale have a +10 handicap… so you add 10 points onto their score at the end of the match to create the ‘handicap result’. In this case it would turn a 16-22 loss into a 26-22 victory.
There are many other benefits to betting on rugby but this has always been a firm favourite… your team might not win but you still can!!
That’s why rugby union always gives you the chance to make money on losers.
Like the sound of winning money on rugby union? I don’t blame you!