Rugby Betting in New York

It’s not the first sport that jumps to mind when you talk to the typical American sports bettor, but rugby’s growing interest here in the United States definitely makes it an intriguing betting option at online sportsbooks.

Rugby, which you could consider the son of soccer and the father of American football, first found footing in England before making its way across Europe, Africa and the rest of the world. Now you can find the game being played nearly year-round, and sportsbooks have definitely taken note.

There are two versions of the game you’ll come across while perusing your rugby betting options: rugby union and rugby league. Both have followings and professional leagues around the world — including here in the United States.

We know you’re not likely super familiar with rugby betting so we’ve put together the basics for you below.

What’s the difference between rugby union and league?

It comes down to a few differences in the rules and the way the game is played. It’s kind of like CFL football vs. NFL football. There are just enough differences to make it a very different game for the fans tuning in at home.

Both versions of rugby are played on a pitch, which is quite similar to a football field for the fact that there is a goal line and an end zone and there are even uprights on both ends. In rugby, the goal line and the end zone are called the try line and the try zone, and a touchdown-like score is known as a try.

The general goal of both versions of rugby is to move the melon-shaped ball up the field, score points and keep your opponent from doing the same. Forward passing and high tackles are not allowed. From there, the rules start to get noticeably different; let’s start by breaking down rugby union into some basic concepts.

Rugby union has 15 players on the field for each team, and the matches run for 80 minutes, with each half lasting 40. To move the ball, players can lateral it behind them to teammates, and they can kick it ahead to advance it as well. Defensively, players attempt to tackle the ball carrier, regain possession and begin the process back toward their own try zone. Teams have the following ways to score points:

  • Try: This is worth five points. Players must set the ball down in the try zone after crossing the try line.
  • Conversion: Worth two points. Players kick the ball through the uprights following a try.
  • Penalty kick: If a penalty kick is awarded, a player must put the ball through the uprights in order to be awarded three points.
  • Drop goal: This is a drop kick (bounce off the ground, kick it on the rebound) and is worth three points if it goes through the uprights.

Another rule of note for rugby union is when the ball goes out of bounds: a line-out occurs where both teams line up players to compete for the ball, which is thrown in from the sidelines. While we mentioned some penalties are worth a kick, there are also minor penalties that lead to a scrum. Both teams line up as many as eight players in a pile, who lock arms and shoulders and then compete for possession of the ball, which is fed into the scrum from the side.

Rugby league key differences

There aren’t a ton of differences between rugby union and rugby league, but those that do exist are significant. For example, instead of 15 players, there are just 13 players per side, and the field is slightly smaller.

The length of the games and halves are the same, and so are the ways a team can score points. The value of those scores, however, is different:

  • Try: Worth four points.
  • Goal (either a conversion or a penalty kick): Two points.
  • Field goal: This is the drop kick scoring, but it is worth just one point.

The other main difference is that a scrum occurs instead of a line-out if the ball leaves play.

Different types of rugby bets

It doesn’t matter if you decide to bet on rugby union, rugby league or a different variation of the sport, the process is pretty much the same. Most online sportsbooks that New Yorkers are going to use are going to offer the same bets. Those should include:

  • Moneylines: The basic explanation is you try to pick the winning team. If you’re right, you get paid based on the betting odds for the team you chose. Teams with negative odds are the favorites, while positive odds indicate the underdog.
  • Spreads: You pick which team will win the match with a spread that is set by oddsmakers factoring into the final score. If the team you choose covers the spread — the favorite has to win by the spread amount or more, the underdog needs to lose by fewer points than the spread or win outright — then you’ll win your bet.
  • Three-way spread: Pick a team to win, or choose that the final score will end up in a draw. Again, the oddsmakers set a line that factors into the final score of the game. Works just like the above-mentioned spread, but if you choose draw, the match will need to end in a tie.
  • Alternative two-way handicaps: You get to adjust the spread by selecting how many points you want to factor into the final score. The more points you choose to use, the less of a return on your wager you’ll receive as the odds will adjust along with the handicap.
  • Totals: The oddsmakers will determine an estimated combined score. You choose if you think both teams combined will score more or fewer points than the estimated amount. This is also known as an over/under.
  • Winning margins: You pick a team to win by a set number of points, or a point range. The more specific you are on your prediction, the better the odds will be.

How to bet on rugby online in New York

Online sportsbooks and apps are not yet legal in the Empire State (though it is likely a matter of time at this point).

Our best current suggestion is to cross into New Jersey when you want to place a bet. The law is pretty simple and easy to follow: You have to be 21 or older and you have to be within New Jersey state lines to make bet by online sportsbook or app.

You do not have to be a New Jersey resident in order to use sportsbooks apps in the state. Keep in mind that the apps will use GPS and geolocation software to verify you are within state lines when placing your wagers. If you’re not, you won’t be able to make any bets.

If you’re wondering about which are the best apps for placing your sports bets, check the toplist above. You can click directly on those sportsbooks to be taken to their sites so you can register and sign up for your bonuses and promos.

Make sure you are using only legal and regulated sportsbooks. More illicit options, such as offshore sportsbooks, have no oversight. That means if you are cheated or money disappears from your accounts, you have no legal recourse. That’s why you should be sure to use legal sportsbooks, so state gambling regulators can step in if a sportsbook does something that is not above board.

Rugby live betting

Live betting, sometimes known as in game betting, is when you bet on a game already in progress. These are generally bets like which team will score next, which team will win the scrum, which team will lead at the half and so on — and the rugby odds continually shift as the game progresses.

This type of betting pretty much expects you to use an online sportsbook or sports betting app to participate. The reason is pretty simple: Betting odds shift so fast and you only need one click to get your bets in on a sportsbook app.

Professional rugby circuits

This might surprise you, but there are actually quite a few rugby leagues across the country, and there’s even one right here in the United States. While not every league will be available to bet on, there should be enough premier rugby circuits to pretty much have something to wager on all year round. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular leagues, starting with our homegrown one.

  • Major League Rugby: This league, which is split into two conferences and plays by rugby union rules, typically runs from February to the end of June each year. In 2021, the season is slated to run from late March until mid-July. The 2020 season had 12 teams, one of which was from Canada. The league is pretty young, having begun in 2018, but the popularity is beginning to grow and teams are being added as the league expands. There is a championship tournament to end the season, when the winners from each of the conferences play in the championship game.
  • Gallagher Premiership Rugby: This league has existed since 1987 and has climbed the ranks to be the United Kingdom’s premier rugby union competition. Currently there are 12 teams in the top division, which is where teams need to be in order to compete for the Gallagher Premiership Rugby championship. That title earns the team that wins it automatic spots in the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The season for the Gallagher league typically runs from September through June. The championship game is played in Twickenham Stadium in London.
  • National Rugby League: This Australian and New Zealand league runs from March to October and features 16 teams. In September the top eight teams in the league play one another over four weeks until only the top two teams are left standing. Those teams then play in a final, which is usually on the first Sunday in October. The game is so popular in Australia and New Zealand that it has been compared to the Super Bowl.
  • Betfred Super League: Teams hail from England, France and Canada for this league, which is considered the top-level professional rugby league competition in the Northern Hemisphere. The 12 teams play 29 games that start in January and run through October. Postseason play is for the top five teams, leading to a Super League Champion.
  • Super Rugby: This international league features 15 teams from Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia. The league is typically separated into three conferences (New Zealand Conference, South African Conference and Australian Conference) and they play 16 games each with two bye weeks. The winners of each conference, plus the five best non-conference winners, qualify for the playoffs for the Super Rugby Championship.

What is rugby sevens?

Rugby sevens, which is known simply as sevens by fans, is kind of the equivalent of eight-player football versus the 11-player game here in the US. The teams are smaller — just seven on each side — which means the scoring is usually a lot higher and more exciting. The matches are a lot shorter, too, comprising just two seven-minute halves for a 14-minute game.

The governing body for rugby sevens is World Rugby, and there are teams in just about every corner of the world. It is popular at all levels, ranging from kids to colleges to professionals and national teams. Some of the rule differences, beyond the number of players and the length of the match, include the following:

  • Conversion attempts must be drop kicked and not place kicked.
  • Conversions must happen within 30 seconds of the try (usually, this is 90 seconds).
  • Only three players are in a scrum (normally eight).
  • Yellow cards get a two-minute suspension (10 in the larger format games).

You’ll find opportunities to bet on  rugby sevens competitions and tournaments at most sportsbooks available in New York. It is very popular, and seems to keep growing. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will feature both men’s and women’s rugby sevens.

Top international rugby competitions

If you’re looking to get in on betting on some of the most popular rugby tournaments, then you’ll be happy to know that both rugby league and rugby union teams play in separate world cup tournaments.

The 2021 Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to take place in England starting in late October and running through the end of November. It will be the 16th Rugby League World Cup, and it will feature 16 international teams:

  • Jamaica
  • Australia
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji
  • Tonga
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • England
  • France
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Lebanon

The rugby union version of the World Cup will be held in 2023 in France. The tournament, known as the 2023 Rugby World Cup, will run from early September to late October and will feature 20 teams, including 12 that finished in the top three of their respective pools during the 2019 Rugby World Cup. France, as the host, receives an automatic bid as well. The other seven teams will be decided through regional tournaments and playoffs.

Rugby FAQ

When was rugby invented, and by whom?

Rugby was officially invented in 1823. The old story goes (and it is likely just a tall tale) that a student at the Rugby School in England by the name of William Webb Ellis was tired of playing soccer, so he picked up the ball, ran into the goal and set it down.

The truth is, a game much like rugby was being played by the ancient Romans over 2,000 years ago. That game, called harpastum, had many similar elements. Similar games were also played throughout medieval England.

Who won the last Rugby World Cup?

The 2019 Rugby World Cup was played between England and South Africa, with the latter team winning the championship, 32-12. The 2017 Rugby League World Cup was between England and Australia, with the latter taking the title, 6-0.

Is rugby an Olympic sport?

Yes. The game is played in the Summer Olympics, with the next version scheduled for 2021 in Tokyo after the 2020 games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newest round of Olympic rugby will be rugby sevens, which features seven players on each side. The format allows for five substitutes on each team, though only three are allowed to play in any given match. The matches will be 14 minutes long, with seven minutes in each half, though the championship game will have two 10-minute halves.

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