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To an outsider, betting on rugby - whether league or union - is the same, regardless of which version is being played. However, there are subtle differences that can make or break the less experienced bettor. Here, we take a look at which markets work best with rugby league.
Betting as matches unfold adds a new degree of tension and excitement, but league has an advantage over union, in that many turnovers are much easier to anticipate. Once the sixth tackle is made for the forced turnover, odds can shift drastically, and this makes good timing all the more lucrative, compared to the less ‘black and white' discourse of a union game where human error is much more of an element.
On the flipside, league's faster overall pace requires quicker decision making from the bettor. However, for those using possession turnover as a justifying factor in placing an in-play bet, the physical strength of a team - over its vision and aerial prowess - is more of a consideration in league. This is because line-outs are not an element in league matches, with scrums instead being undertaken if the ball goes into touch.
How scrums have evolved over the past twenty years.
The 2021 World Cup's format inspires countries with a lesser capacity for rugby league to make additional efforts in coaching and structural development. The upcoming World Cup itself will be an object of curiosity when it comes to this market, especially if the results of the last one are anything to go by. Back in 2017, Lebanon caused a shock, leading a France team twelve rank places above it at half-time in their opening game, and going on to win it. Tonga also offered an example of how complacency can ‘break' the half/full-time markets, coming from a 16-2 half-time deficit to beat a more fancied New Zealand 28-22.
Although the rugby league culture of countries like England and Australia is practically unrivalled, and the latter's national side with little further room for improvement on the apparent perfection that already exists, their opponents on the international stage can only get stronger. Shock half-time leads can only become more of a trend in the coming years, and while pre-existing quality will most often give stronger teams the last word, this niche market is certainly one to watch.
When placing a bet on the handicap market, the person doing so has full confidence in the stronger team to deliver an almighty beating onto the weaker one. Current rugby league betting odds markets have plenty of examples, and as the name implies, a handicap bet relies on one team to be correctly backed to win by a minimum margin - the handicap against them. A bettor's justification for placing a handicap bet can vary, but league placing, home advantage and dominance in the two teams' head-to-head record.
By extension, the latter also applies to special occasions, like the State of Origin series. In 2018, for instance, New South Wales defied odds against them, but those odds against them were largely down to a three- year streak of series losses to Queensland, rather than a lack of ability. In response to Queensland's dominance, handicap bets backing the Maroons to win at home with a handicap of 20 or more points against them (displayed as Queensland [-20] online).