Of the two rugby codes, league was always seen as the poor relation to union but the sport has enjoyed something of a rebirth in recent years. In the UK and further afield, the game was moved to the summer and it’s fair to say that rugby league has been transformed as a result. The game is no longer played on a mud bath and the skill level has risen accordingly.
Now we have major tournaments across the world but the quest for all professional players is to make an appearance at the Rugby World Cup.
The big one
The Rugby League World Cup actually has a fairly long history and the tournament was first held in 1954. Initially the dates were sporadic – the next competitions arrived in 1957 and 1960 respectively before a gap of eight years saw the 1968 tournament take place in Australia.
These days, the schedule has settled down and the World Cup is now held every four years with the next event heading to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in 2017.
For those looking to place a bet on the Rugby League World Cup there are a number of options: Tournament winner betting is made available alongside group winner and, of course, you can also stake on which team you think will emerge victorious in every game.
In the UK, the sport has grown thanks to that summer switch and the advent of the Super League. This competition was inaugurated in 1996 and the fact that it is restricted to just twelve teams keeps things sharp and the action very competitive.
If you’re betting on the Super League then it’s worth keeping in mind the history of previous winners. In the first twenty years of this tournament only four teams had ever won it. Leeds Rhinos were the most successful with seven trophies while St Helens, Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors followed with six, four and three respectively.
Interestingly, when you look at the Challenge Cup, which is the major knockout competition in the UK, Wigan Warriors are far more successful and look a better bet in this market.
Across the world
Rugby league is growing in Australia and New Zealand too and here, the two countries compete annually for the Anzac Test. Since its inception in 1997, Australia have won it on no fewer than fourteen occasions and are clearly the more dominant team.
Domestically, there is the NRL – the National Rugby League – which sees sides from both countries take part. For those placing a bet on the NRL, Australia dominate once again with teams winning it on 15 occasions compared to New Zealand’s solitary victory up to 2015.
France’s Elite One league is also growing in popularity but there are leagues across the globe and the sport is thriving internationally.
Tournaments also cross borders with the European Cup featuring teams from England, Wales and France. English clubs have won this fourteen times with Welsh sides taking it on seven occasions.
Elsewhere, there is the Pacific Cup, the European Shield and much more.
Rugby League is one of many sports to have really benefitted from the advent of satellite TV. These days, televised rugby is on show every week and with major alterations to the structure, the game is really thriving.
Betting on rugby league is also at its highest point even though there may not be such a big choice of side markets, compared to other events. You can, however, still stake on all the major tournaments such as the World Cup while domestic leagues offer hundreds of matches all through the calendar year.