Super Rugby is the latest incarnation of the international competition that changed rugby union forever when it was established in 1996, one that has grown in popularity with Australian sports fans as teams representing cities other than those in the country’s east have joined the party.
Following the success of the Rugby World Cup 1995, the rugby boards of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa formed SANZAR to administer an annual 12-team provincial rugby union tournament pitting regional teams from the three southern hemisphere countries against each other.
Super 12 started in 1996 with three Australian sides, four South African clubs and five Kiwi teams, with the foundation Australian sides being the Canberra-based Brumbies, the Brisbane-based Reds and the Sydney-based Waratahs.
Super 12 became Super 14 in time for the 2006 season, with one of the new sides being the Perth-based Western Force, which boosted Australia’s stocks to four clubs. A fifth Australian team entered the competition in 2011, with Melbourne getting a side in the shape of the Rebels. Organisers decided to rebadge the tournament Super Rugby, not least because they had plans to keep increasing the number of clubs participating in the annual event.
Generally, Super Rugby seasons run from February through to July, with the competition leading into the home-and-away Test matches between Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina that comprise The Rugby Championship.
The only games that rival Super Rugby matches for betting activity among Australian punters are the Bledisloe Cup clashes between the Wallabies and the All Blacks, which began in the 1930s and get more heated with every year.
Rugby union and rugby league may be different sports with different rules but they are great similarities between their betting markets, particularly the ones on which Australia-facing bookmakers take the most wagers. While we are on the topic. Take a few moments to check out the best online bookies in your country for Super Rugby betting.
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Betting on Super Rugby is not as prevalent as betting on either the Australian Football League or the National Rugby League but there is sufficient interest for Australia-facing bookmakers to offer a range of match and futures markets.
Super Rugby match betting
Neither money-line betting nor straight-up betting is part of the Australian lexicon, with Australian bookmakers and punters using head-to-head betting to describe markets in which there are odds about the two sides winning the match.
Also, Australians use decimal odds and have the tendency to, incorrectly, insert an Australian dollar sign in front of them. So, for example, head-to-head betting on a Super Rugby game between two of the Australian teams may be:
Line and points betting
Undoubtedly the most popular Super Rugby match betting type, line betting is when bookmakers handicap games by awarding a head start to the head-to-head underdog. For example, they may hand the Waratahs a five-and-half-point advantage over the Rebels, a head start that results in punters being able to take $1.92 about either team:
Points betting is line betting with enhanced odds. However, unlike head-to-head and line betting, bookmakers are not guaranteed to pay out on a winner because the handicaps do not align. For example, if the Waratahs won the example match by six points, punters who backed the Waratahs in either head-to-head betting or line betting (-5.5 points) would receive payouts but neither Waratahs nor Rebels supporters would land their line betting wagers:
Irrespective of the head-to-head betting, line betting and points betting, Super Rugby bookmakers offer margin betting on all matches throughout the competition, with the margins generally being 1-12 points and 13+ points per side:
Rugby union is a sport that lends itself to match betting exotics, with some of the most popular markets being those on the first stoppage in play, first third match official decision and, of course, first try scorer.
Detractors of the Super Rugby competition say that matches in it are too stop-start to make for great viewing. They do make for a betting market on the first stoppage in play, though. A typical first stoppage in play market may be:
$2.10 lineout/throw in
$34.00 22-metre drop out
$81.00 drop goal
The third match official, better known as the video referee, is a feature of Super Rugby games, adjudicating on decisions that the field referee considers too difficult. Remarkably, punters can bet on whether the third match official awards the score when he or she is first asked to make a ruling, with the hot favourite being that they award the score.
And first try scorer, with the wingers on the favourite team often quoted at around $10, is a market that attracts a heap of small bets from Super Rugby fans wanting a little wager.
Super Rugby futures betting
Championship and conference betting
Super Rugby is split into three conferences – the Australian Conference, the New Zealand Conference and the South African Conference – with the winner of each section qualifying for the Super Rugby Finals Series, along with the three teams with the best records out of the non-section winners.
Bookmakers enable Super Rugby punters not only to bet on the winner of the championship but also the winners of the three conferences. Furthermore, some bookmakers offer odds about each of the 15 sides qualifying for the knockout phase.
Super Rugby betting strategies
Underestimate home advantage at your peril
There are two major reasons why you should think long and hard before betting against a home team in a Super Rugby match. First, rugby union is a technical sport in which it is easy for referees to identify an infringement and blow for a penalty if they feel pressurised by the home crowd. And second, travelling takes it toll on away sides.
Weigh up the conferences before betting on futures
The six best sides do not necessarily for the Super Rugby Finals Series and the top seeding does not necessarily find its way to the top team, either. A good side in a weak conference may be a better futures bet than a slightly stronger team in a conference with more depth to it.
If in doubt, back the Crusaders
The Christchurch-based team is the most successful Super Rugby side having won seven titles, four more than the Blues and the Bulls. The Crusaders are perennial contenders and always tough to beat at the business end of the season.
Super Rugby is the best rugby union competition in the world and throws up excellent betting opportunities throughout the season, particularly if one keeps out an eye for chances to bet against teams disadvantaged by crazy travel schedules.
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