An Introduction to Rugby League Betting

With the NRL being such a major sport in Australia, there is a lot of focus on the rugby league action by bookmakers. Whether the action is coming from the NRL, World Club Challenge, the World Cup or even England’s Super League, rugby league matches offers punters a wide variety of betting options due to its popularity.  

The nature of the scoring within the sport, however, is not one that naturally offers punters a tremendous amount of value in the match outrights. So there is a need with rugby league betting, to play the field a little differently and to explore other types of options. 

Betting on Rugby League

One of the main things to deal with in rugby league betting is points. That is, the points scored in matches. There is often quite unfavourable odds in the direct match outright of rugby league fixtures. That’s because of the scoring format which is 4 points for a try, 2 for a conversion and 1 for a penalty kick. 

Underdogs have a hard time racking up enough points in a fixture to topple the stronger teams. It is a world away from a soccer match where one fluke moment of an own-goal can win an underdog a fixture. So when it comes to betting on rugby league there is a prominence of markets that lean towards points-based options, such as handicap markets.

Even though match outrights are three-way options of a home win, draw or away win, the middle option is not something that is going to come into play. So few and far between are drawn outcomes in rugby league matches, that although mathematically possible, it’s not very probable.

But because the option does exist in match outrights, it helps suck value from the other two options because of bookmaker margins that are in play. So in a lot of cases you are left with a situation where you have a lot of heavy-favourites sitting on a rugby league coupon. That is the reason which compels a lot of punters to lean towards handicap markets.

How to bet on Rugby League

Handicaps for rugby league betting are popular. It offers more of a level playing field for a punter upon which to attack value. Therefore they are well worth exploring because if you come across the Parramatta Eels as 1.4 decimal odds at home in a match outright, then options like that are not going to appeal greatly. 

But in expecting that same team to win the win fixture anyway, but putting a handicap option into play, things change a fair bit. With a Parramatta Eels -8 handicap option, then there is going to be a much more favourable odds quote being in play. It’s the same match outcome of a home win, just with the conditions of them needing to win by a minimum number of points.

Learning how to read the handicaps is important and statistics help a lot with that. By assessing how many points a team are averaging in home fixtures, and weighing that up against the points difference of the visiting team, then some conclusions about how to play a rugby league betting handicap can be drawn.

Common types of Rugby bets

Here is a list of the most common types of Rugby League bets that are played.

Outright Winner

The staple of any sporting event and it is in rugby league betting. It is the simple choice of what the outcome of the game is going to be. Is it going to produce an unlikely tie, or will it be a success for the home or away side? That’s all that is in question for bets placed on the outright winner market. As mentioned above however, unless there are two very evenly matched teams, there is often little value in rugby league match outrights.


The handicap in rugby league is based on points scored. There are two ways to play a handicap. The favourite in the fixture can be backed to cover a spread, which means that they score more points than what they have been handicapped at, or to defend a spread which is not losing by more than a set amount of points.

So if the Brisbane Broncos were backed at -8, for the bet to be successful, they would have to win the fixture by at least 9 points. Anything else and the bet would lose. If the Newcastle Knights were backed at +8 then as long as they didn’t lose by more than eight points, then the bet would be won. Punters are able to define their own handicap lines on teams to different points levels. 

Handicap No Draw

There is also a Handicap No Draw option. Within this market there will be half points on offer, which means that no drawn outcome on the handicap result can happen. So in the case of the Broncos being backed at -8.5 points, then there is no scenario where the handicap would end even.

In a straight handicap of the Broncos at -8, if they won by eight points the bet would be lost. So this market basically eliminates the draw so it is no longer a Three-Way handicap, it is a Two-Way handicap with only two outcomes in play. 


Rugby league bets based on individual players are some of the more difficult options to play. Markets such as First Try Scorer, Last Try Scorer and Anytime Tryscorer Scorer are markets which offer long odds. That is due to the huge unpredictably of such markets.

Bearing in mind that there are 26 players on the field at the start of rugby league match, it’s a tough call to pick the one that will touchdown first.

Total Points

This is an over/under market where the total points scored within the match are called into question. It is not a matter of which teams scores the points and the outcome of the game is not important either. The challenge is to pick an option of whether the final tally of points is going to be above or below the line of your choice, for example Over/Under 35.5 points.

Major Rugby League Tournaments and Competitions

World Cup


Super League

Challenge Cup

 State of Origin

World Club Challenge


Rugby league is a high-octane hard-hitting spectacle of a sport. From a betting perspective it is dominated by lop-sided match outrights. But in simply learning handicapping techniques for a betting approach then it can open up better wagering opportunities. More often than not, rugby league betting is all about the points more than anything else.

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