Rugby offers plenty of opportunities for punters to profit. Markets range from straight match bets to handicap markets, first try scorer and first scoring play. Simon Mail takes a look at the different ways in which you can win by betting on what, to the outsider, can seem quite a confusing sport.
Formats and tournaments
Rugby Union is divided up by club competitions and the more popular international game (followed by a much wider audience).
In the domestic game, the Aviva Premiership is the English top flight which has 12 sides competing for a place in the top four, leading to an end of season play-off mini-tournament. The top four Aviva Premiership sides clash in semi-finals with the top two awarded home advantage. The winners play each other at Twickenham to determine the champions.
This might seem a strange way of determining the winners but the play-off format is used because some the teams, (most recently Leicester Tigers) have been more affected over the years by players absent through representing their country at international level throughout the season.
Unlike in football, the rugby season continues while international matches take place so the end of season play-offs are viewed as the fairest way of deciding the title.
The Heineken Cup, which looks likely to be replaced by a new tournament next year, is the elite European competition. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French and Italian clubs compete in pools to try and advance to the last-eight knockout stage.
Arguably the biggest betting interest of the year comes in February when the Six Nations gets underway. Wales, the winner of the last two seasons, face competition from England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy. The nations play one match against each opponent to decide the overall winner.
It's important to take into account the 'home draw' aspect of the Six Nations. Teams only play each other once, so the generated fixtures can be very important. For example, France are a hugely different proposition at their home stadium, the Stade de France, than they are on the road. So, the outright winner market on the Six Nations could be affected by which games a team has at their own stadium and which ties they face away from home.
The World Cup is held every four years and holders New Zealand will be strong favourites when they travel to England for the 2015 competition.
Most popular markets
Match Odds, Handicap bets, Winning Margin, First Scoring Play