If you’ve suddenly noticed a lot more men sticking their heads between the legs of other men or people getting disproportionately hostile towards mild-mannered Welsh people they please don’t assume you’ve slipped into a parallel universe, it’s just European rugby’s version of a annual jamboree of overly nationalistic optimism.
If you’re not already a fan, it’s going to be hard to escape the constant hype and bandwagon jumping – think about how people were when Mumford and Sons came on the scene and multiply by about 500. A minus a few thousand tweed waistcoats and banjos.
If it’s all a bit foreign to you, don’t worry we’ve recruited the services of one of our secretive yet extremely knowledgeable rugby traders to give us a run-down of some of the do’s and don’ts of rugby punting in a burst of myth-busting some common misconceptions about rugby punting.
Home advantage is a positive common across a lot of sports and it’s definitely relevant to rugby too, but the exact benefit may be overestimated. It’s not set in stone of course, but for a club game, the home side will get a boost of about six points – nearly a converted try – but at international level, it could be half that. It’s worth bearing in mind for the Six Nations given the relatively large travelling support. In the Six Nations, the crowd isn’t as dominated by the home support as you’d get in a club game so the benefit of home advantage tends to be reduced.
It’s difficult to apply a general rule to the effect of a sin-binning as every game is different and they can happen in so many different scenarios. As obvious as it sounds, a sin-binning affects a team’s chances for the 10 minute period that the player is off, but teams can weather the storm and ensure it doesn’t ruin their chances of a win. For example, in last year’s tournament, both England (v France) and Wales (v Ireland) both got the only yellow cards of each of those games yet still went on to win. On the flipside, Wales got a yellow card against England and during the 10 minutes of sin bin time, the Sweet Chariot scored the go ahead penalty that took them to victory.
Interestingly, a red card does not have that great an effect on a team’s chances of winning. From my experience trading, a red card can galvanize a side and make them focus on. Often, the In-Play handicap will go way too high when a team gets a red and there is often value backing the + when this occurs. This is especially relevant in bad conditions when it can be hard to rack up points.
This is another one highly dependent on the situation and the style of play of a team, but in general wingers and full backs get the credit because they score tries that are more spectacular and stand out in our memories more. Forwards on the other hand tend to score the ugly tries that involve the battering ram approach. Wingers are on the end of a lot of tryscoring moves however, so they’re hard to ignore.
For a value bet, I try to sniff out a backrow forward (flanker or number 8) or a hooker in teams that play in a less exciting and more physical way. It’s more relevant when the weather is poor too. In these instances, the lineout and the rolling maul is used more and more and thus the chances of a backrow or hooker falling over the line from a lineout 15 metres out increases. Sean Cronin of Ireland, Ben Morgan of England and Toby Faletau are great examples of this.
Another one that qualifies more as hunch rather than a rock solid rule. With my betting hat on, I’ve made more money betting +’s in my lifetime. During the winter, backing a team that is getting points is worthwhile due to the likelihood of rain, wind and whatever else may come. Towards the end of season the teams giving away points are often great bets because some teams are playing to get in a playoff while their opposition may have nothing to play for and have mentally checked out. At the World Cup, the conditions are good, but there are likely to be some dead rubbers in the pool stages. Play it by ear, but I’d still maintain a preference for taking teams on the + side of the handicap.
I’m a firm believer in this. If a team is beaten in the scrum they will lose the game. As the saying goes “forwards win matches, backs decide by how much” and it’s become a cliché mainly because it’s true. To someone used to football, it may feel strange to say only about half of the two teams contesting a handful for can decide the result of the match, but the chances are, if you’re getting crushed in the scrum, your pack is getting tired, you’re conceding territory and most likely points.