Rugby union is the official No.1 sport in Aotearoa New Zealand. With the All Blacks winning three Rugby World Cup crowns (1987, 2011, 2015), it’s not surprising that Kiwis follow their men’s team like rock band groupies.
Rugby league is the other code, although it is the poorer cousin of union with fewer numbers playing the game. A loyal band of followers enjoys betting on the New Zealand Warriors franchise team competing in the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) and the one-time world champion Kiwis national men’s team.
However, when it comes to betting on rugby matches it pays to know the ins and outs of either code rather than banking on the All Blacks or Warriors brand. Talk becomes cheap when passion is the currency. It would be foolish to put too much weight on the ramblings of armchair critics.
For that reason, we advise Kiwis who intend to wager on rugby matches to do their ground work because bookies will. One-eyed fans always talk up their teams amid bookmakers’ forecasts. It’s one thing to cheer for the winners and another to know what constitutes a winning formula.
With the advent of mobile devices and quality internet connections, the urge to have a flutter on rugby matches is ever present. With the 10th edition of the men’s Rugby World Cup to be staged in France from September 8 to October 28 in 2023, the union fans have been debating who will make the playoffs, if not become champions.
That in itself is enough for us to start ushering Kiwi fans to the top rugby union betting sites in the New Zealand cyberspace. Traditionally, the TAB used to be the first port of call for many punters. However, with so many online bookies entering the New Zealand betting market nowadays, TAB faces stiff competition to prevent its regulars from straying.
For starters, many rugby union pundits are already predicting that the All Blacks won’t win the world cup. But that doesn’t mean Kiwi fans should be losers, too. That’s where we come in like beacons to guide you to the online betting sites for the best bang for your kiwi dollars. We have allocated a segment here for rugby league.
We want to recommend to New Zealanders best sites that offer multiple opportunities to maximise their thrills while wagering on rugby matches and competitions, not just within their country but at marquee tournaments around the world. Our goal is to remove guesswork for rugby lovers who don’t understand some of the complex betting options on reputable online sites.
As a precautionary measure, Kiwis who are involved in union administrative roles and associated services should become familiar with the integrity rules & regulations of Rugby New Zealand so as not to trip on anti-corruption and betting prohibitions. Pay specific attention to the passage pertaining to “connected persons” who are prohibited from betting on rugby union globally.
That’s why we believe those who tick those boxes will step safely on to the best online rugby union betting sites. Again, what is best for one wagering Kiwi may not be ideal for another. We’ve done some digging to find a list of bookies that best suit your needs.
Know your rugby betting markets
To understand rugby markets requires comprehending what types of wagers bookmakers offer to Kiwis on their online betting platforms. Rugby can be quite a complex game for those who haven’t got a firm grasp on the rules. To recognise why a referee awards a freekick or penalty requires a keen eye for the subtle infringements in lineouts, rucks and mauls, scrums, and head-high tackles.
That’s the sort of understanding New Zealanders will have to master on top of having a passion for the game. Those who enter a bookies’ playground must analyse different betting markets before wagering. Don’t and it could hit you hard in the pocket. Become familiar with the bookmakers’ codes and terminology.
We’re going to break down some of the jargon in the maze of markets in New Zealand’s online betting arena. Whether you’re placing bets via your mobile device or catching the slow-motion replays on television, you’ll find our bullet-point items helpful to make informed decisions.
We advise New Zealanders to take calculated risks when embarking on a betting path that weaves in combinations on a straight win-or-loss outcome. Establish a limit on how much money you’re going to wager. Taking reckless risks can yield richer rewards but if you come out on the wrong side of the ledger excitement can turn to pain.
Here are some of the common rugby markets that bookies offer to Kiwis:
- 1X2 betting: This is the world’s most popular type of wagering. New Zealand rugby is no exception in picking home-and-away team victories. The “1” denotes a wager on the home team. The “X” equates to a draw although Kiwi bettors must note that stalemates in rugby matches are a once-in-a-blue-moon outcome. A penalty kick or dropped goal in the dying minutes can nullify a draw. The “2” symbolises a win for the visiting side. Note that some sportsbooks simply use teams’ names instead of the numbers.
- Championship/season bets: These are outright wagers on which team is likely to claim the competition title or at the end of a season. Nothing offers a better lesson to Kiwis than the Super Rugby Pacific final between the Blues and the Crusaders in 2022. The former had gone into the final on a 15-match winning streak while the latter had an admirable history of a dozen Super crowns. The season’s form gave way to history as the Crusaders bagged their 13th crown.
- Combining bets: Some online bookmakers provide bet-building modules to weave several aspects of a game, or different games, into a wagering bundle. The minute you start banking on numerous elements the risk factor rises, especially if you opt for longer odds. Bookies always come up with novel ways to keep Kiwis interested. A classic example is picking the shirt numbers off the back of potential try scorers to see if those digits would add up to the final score of their team during a match.
- Handicap betting: Nothing encapsulates rugby wagering better than the gargantuan odds of the favourites thumping the underdogs. This also is known as line or spread betting. Akin to golf handicapping, bookies offer the underdogs a points buffer of beating or losing by a narrow margin. For example, if the All Blacks are a 10.5 favourites to beat Fiji and you place a handicap bet on the latter, then should the Pacific Islanders win or lose under the 10.5-point margin, you’ll come away richer.
- Individual player betting: Kiwis who find straightforward wagering boring will welcome the variety individual betting offers. Who will score the opening points of a match? That can come from a kick between the sticks or a try, although it’ll be interesting to see what a bookie makes of a referee awarding a penalty try. What about the first try scorer? Wingers and halfbacks will have shorter odds over burly props and hookers. Even picking a yellow (10-minute sin bin) or red card (early shower) recipient is fair game. Know which players lack discipline.
- Outright betting: This is a beginner’s delight. Simply select who’ll lift the silverware at the end of a tournament/championship. Some sportsbooks allow for picking teams that’ll make the playoffs. If you picked the Crusaders to go all the way in the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific, then you’re ready for something more challenging.
- Over/under betting: Also known as “totals betting”, this has the appeal of outright betting. The over/under betting dumbs it down to a simple equation of how many points both teams will register at the final whistle. If the bookie opens betting on a 50.5 threshold, you can opt for exceeding that ceiling or staying below it to collect wins. Selecting a fraction can edge out rival bettors.
Working out the best rugby odds
Most reputable bookmakers will dangle attractive odds to New Zealand punters in rugby matches. The odds can be short or long. The former means the overwhelming favourites will offer modest returns for a straight-out winning prediction. The latter tends to pay handsome dividends to those who wager on the underdogs to triumph.
For some bettors, the short odds are enough to feed their flutter. That’s perfectly all right. For others, the kick from picking the underdogs is the ideal fix. Either way, there’s no disputing some Kiwis gravitate towards bookies who offer what they consider to be their best odds. With so many online betting sites in the New Zealand cyberspace, it isn’t easy to decide, so that’s why we’re happy to give you some pointers here.
Our advice is to have a cluster of perhaps three to five preferred online bookmakers. In doing so you’re giving yourself the leeway to wager on different variables. For example, one bookie can have favourable odds on a win/loss/draw prediction, but another may offer attractive odds on a more than 12-point margin victory or a less-than one to boost your windfall.
Put another way, it pays to shop around your five bookmakers for the best odds to spread the placement of your bets. It’s akin to buying bread at your neighbourhood petrol station outlet because you want to save fuel. However, you may be happy to burn some gas to another part of the city on your way to work to buy a loaf because the outlet offers NZ10 cents a litre savings on the next fuel stop at a selected petrol station.
Popular rugby events to bet on
The days of just following the All Blacks is well and truly over. Kiwi fans nowadays also track the progress of their professional players all the way to offshore clubs, as well as those who are talented enough to make the muster of other international teams through lineage or eligibility through residency.
That means the New Zealand betting market has grown tenfold and those Kiwis who relish wagering are wanting more intricate details on where their rugby heroes are plying their trade. Knowledge of a foreign market offers Kiwi bettors the confidence to place bets on teams that field players groomed on New Zealand soil.
For New Zealanders, the basic online betting art is honed from the professional domestic competitions such as the men’s National Provincial Championship (NPC), women’s only top-tier Farah Palmer Cup, and the lower-tier men’s Heartland Championship. That provincial rivalry then flows on to the staging of the Super Rugby Pacific in 2022. This franchise-based international competition involves teams from Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands (Fiji and Moana Pasifika). Before that, the competition was known as Super Rugby involving Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa franchise teams. The latter has left for the PRO14 league in Europe — now renamed as the United Rugby Championship (Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa, Wales).
However, with the world cup looming every four years, the NZ fans’ interest in international friendlies tends to reach fever pitch. That also elevates the annual Rugby Championship (Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) to a pre-world cup information platform to call the bookies’ bluff. Some of the other key markets that Kiwis follow for online betting include the annual international Six Nations Championship in the Northern Hemisphere as well as the professional competitions in Canada, Japan, and the United States.
Rugby also has a keen following in the women’s world cup as well as the female and male rugby sevens circuit throughout the year. That culminates in a world crown and the quest for a medal at the Summer Olympic Games every four years. That minefield of markets shows why New Zealanders placing bets are partial towards bookies who offer live streaming of key games. Adding graphics and match statistics turn the mobile sites into fountains of knowledge.
Rugby league in a nutshell
To the novice, rugby league and rugby union can look the same at a cursory glance. Even more so nowadays because rugby union plays a pick-and-go type of game from the width of the field because teams invest a lot in their defensive systems. A lineout is usually the first thing that distinguishes union from league.
However, the major difference between the codes is that rugby league has only 13 players on the park during play when compared to the union’s 15. The former allows for five completed tackles before the ball is handed over to the opposition. The latter encourages players to keep the ball alive through rucks, mauls, and speedy lineouts.
Do become familiar with the scoring protocol. A try in rugby league is worth four points. A conversion racks up two points and a dropped goal one. In union, a try equals five points, two for a conversion and three for a penalty kick or dropped goal. This is vital knowledge if you opt to wager on handicap betting.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the annual Australian NRL is rugby league’s marquee competition where it has a cult following that eclipses rugby union. The Warriors play their home games in New Zealand and away on Aussie soil. However, due to the global pandemic the NZ franchise team had been based in Australia from 2020 through to July 2022.
The UK and France are the other rugby league regions where some Kiwi players ply their trade. The English Super League is a top event but for Kiwi fans the annual three-match State of Origin (New South Wales versus Queensland) and the Rugby League World Cup (every four years) heighten interest. League is beginning to thrive in the Pacific Islands with Fiji and Tonga causing upsets on the international stage.
While our top rugby online betting sites recommended above also provide rugby league bells and whistles, we recommend bookmakers from Ladbrokes and William Hill because of their knowledge and statistics on the Super League that should benefit hardcore NZ bettors.
All the odds and betting advice we offer on rugby union is equally applicable to rugby league. Wagering Kiwis must note that bookmakers also offer odds on who is likely to claim league awards such as the Dally M Medal (NRL), Lance Todd Trophy (Carnegie Challenge Cup), Steve Prescott Man of Steel (English Super League), and the Wally Lewis Medal (NRL). If you bet early in the season, keep a tab on the odds of an individual contender because it can mutate after each round.
Tips & strategies in rugby betting
Like anything in the world, if you know the subject matter and stay abreast of the latest news, then you’ll prosper. In our tips to wagering Kiwis, we advise them to do thorough research. Here are some key pointers:
- Climate: Does the wet, cold, and windy Wellington favour the Warriors more or the Brisbane Broncos? How will the All Blacks find Mbombela Stadium where they have never played before when the Springboks host them in 2022? Research conditions.
- Follow head, not heart: No matter how much you like a team or players, study the bookies’ odds and the sides’ head-to-head record.
- History: Favourites tend to have a psychological advantage over the underdogs on account of titles won. Bookies disclose such details. Failing that, surf the internet.
- Line-ups: It pays to check if the key players are available or out due to injury or some other reason. An inexperienced injection or a rookie/replacement coach can also upset the rhythm of a dominant team.
- Tactics: Some teams play running rugger to entertain while others prefer to kick up-and-under balls or keep it in the tight five to grind their way to victories. Some sides peak for the world cup while others want to show they’re the world’s best year in, year out.
- Wagering mark: Decide on your stake and stick to it, especially if you’re combining bets or engaging in in-play.