Everybody loves an underdog. There’s nothing better as a neutral to side with the plucky minnows as they attempt to upset the odds and topple a giant. The Mighty Ducks, the Tune Squad in Space Jam, the Irish football team. It’s hard not to jump on board with the gutsy small fry – particularly when they produce that miraculous result.
Japan have already ticked our ‘plucky minnow bandwagon’ box at this year’s Rugby World Cup. Their 34-32 victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites South Africa in Brighton led to many rugby hipsters donning the red and white jerseys, while claiming they always knew Karne Hesketh was going to be a star after seeing him impress for his club side Otago in 2008.
Now while cheering on the underdogs with a pint in the pub is might craic, putting money on them isn’t going to result in continued success. That’s why handicap betting in rugby is ideal – levelling the playing field for the perceived weaker team.
Now backing the underdog becomes profitable.
If you’d put £10 on every side with a plus handicap during the group stage, you’d be around £115 up. The team with the handicap on their side has won 27 of the 40 clashes during the groups – a success rate of 67.5 per cent.
Going into the weekend’s quarter finals, and the four sides with the handicap – Wales (+9), France (+11), Argentina (+5) and Scotland (+15) – make up a nice little 12/1 fourfold to temp us in.
South Africa v Wales (), Saturday 4.00pm
- In the last decade South Africa have face Wales 12 times, and covered the handicap on just five occasions
- In the last eight games (since November 2008) a bet on Wales (+9) would have won six times – a strike rate of 75 per cent
New Zealand v France (), Saturday 8.00pm
- These two sides have faced each other 14 times since October 2005, and New Zealand have won by 12 or more eight times. A success rate of 57 per cent
- However the All Blacks may be slightly overrated by the PP traders – they failed to cover the handicap given to them in all four of their group games against Argentina, Georgia, Tonga and Namibia
Ireland v Argentina (), Sunday 1.00pm
- The last five times Ireland have played Argentina they have covered a five point handicap
- Although Ireland failed to cover their handicap against Italy, Romania and Canada in the group stages, while Argentina stayed within 10 points of New Zealand in Pool C
Australia v Scotland (), Sunday 4.00pm
- Scotland have played Australia three times in the last six years. The Scots have won twice (by a point in 2009 and by three points in 2012) and were beaten by just six points in November 2013
- Scotland were given (+15) on the handicap against South Africa and came within six minutes of covering it, before Bryan Habana’s 74th minute try put 18 points between the sides
- Can anyone catch Julian Savea or Bryan Habana in the race for top tryscorer in the Rugby World Cup?
- Danny Cipriani Exclusive: Joe Schmidt must have something up his sleeve – how Ireland can win this World Cup
- LOL! Have a look at how Paddy Power decided to help Sam Burgess get to the Super League Grand Final