Betting on National Rugby League

Rugby League is a long established sport that has been played around the world for over a hundred years. It came to Australia along with the first European settlers but the country’s premier league was established much more recently. As professionalism became established in the sport, the need to restructure the game here became more urgent and so, the NRL was formed in 1998.

In the modern day, the National Rugby League contains 16 teams – including one from New Zealand for an added bit of spice – and it’s a huge attraction, not just for fans either side of the Tasman, but for rugby enthusiasts all over the world.

It’s therefore a big draw for the betting community too but if you’re looking to get involved yourself, what exactly can you bet on and which bookies are the best places for your money?

Outright markets

Before and also during any NRL season, you can bet on the team who you think will lift the title at the end of the campaign. The South Sydney Rabbitohs are the most successful side in the 20 year history of the competition and they always feature highly in the markets while challenges come from the Sharks, Melbourne Storm, Newcastle Knights and many others.

Outright betting can also let you decide on which teams can make it into the top four. This option isn’t as widely available as the straight win but an increasing number of bookmakers are starting to offer it.

Match Betting

National Rugby League, like all rugby, can be a sport where there are few shocks and that’s why the straight result betting is very popular. Games usually go to the strongest side over the course of a gruelling 80 minutes but naturally there can be surprise outcomes and the prices for the favourites may be very short.

The draw is also given as a betting option by the majority of bookmakers although this is a very rare occurrence indeed and the numbers of drawn games are likely to be in low single figures at the end of any NRL season. However, this outcome is often priced at around the 25/1 mark so if the two teams involved seem evenly matched then it may be worth considering.

As a slight variation on the straight result, an increasing number of bookies are quoting prices on the ‘handicap’. A handicap gives either side a notional head start in terms of points – usually from 8 upwards – and if the opposing team wins and overtakes that notional number, you can collect a return at a higher price.

Side Betting

We’ve already seen how individual scorer markets are very popular in soccer and it’s the same with rugby league to an extent. Here, however, the options are a little more limited with a smaller set of bookies taking bets on the first try scorer.

Around 50% of all bookies quote prices for this bet and it’s an enjoyable one to analyse so if it sounds like it may be important to you, we’ll come on to a list of the best bookmakers a little later on.

It may also be possible to stake on the last try scorer too as well as the anytime scorer market but it’s unlikely that you will see markets for multiple scorers as you would with soccer.

As a small variant on scores, you can get prices on whether a drop goal will be scored in any game but for the most part, rugby league side betting focuses on numbers of points.

Other Options

Points betting is popular for all rugby league as it is with many sports. This area tends to start with total points betting where bookies set certain lines for the overall match – 11.5, 13.5, 15.5 and so on – and your job is to back over or under that line depending on how many points you think will be scored.

Elsewhere, you could also bet on the total number of points in each half and which of those halves will give us the most points. Total tries is another popular side option along with winning margins for either team.

Total points for each team is also an option with some bookmakers. For the bigger matches in the National Rugby League, you may find that there are up to 100 separate markets on offer, depending on the bookmaker involved so there really is far more on offer here than you might expect.

Best Bookies for National Rugby League Betting

Choice, in terms of that range of markets is important but it’s vital to get value as well so which bookmakers provide the best homes when you’re looking to bet on the NRL?


If you want to stay loyal than this is a great bookmaker with a strong Aussie focus. The choice is there with a good selection of markets for all National Rugby League games including some of the more obscure betting options that we’ve listed above.

CrownBet do not publish a welcome offer at the time of writing but there is a good range of ongoing promotions that can be used for Rugby League fixtures and in the standard markets, prices are really strong. Also, $ AUD is the principle currency here so it’s easy to play with your preferred money option and to know where you are with prices and offers.


Betfair deserve to get a mention as this is one sport where they provide heavy coverage for matches across the world. You can bet on the sportsbook and the exchange and while the exchange itself does require a little more work in seeking out odds, it can often be the case that the prices here are more favourable.

A welcome offer is also on the table but it’s the choice of markets within each rugby league match that sees Betfair stand out and makes them a worthy addition to this list.


When you publish a seriously good welcome deal that can earn way up to $250 AUD then you’re certain to get noticed but that’s just the first thing to like about PalmerBet. Value keeps coming from this point with one of the best sets of ongoing deals that you’ll find from anywhere in the sportsbooks.

Prices are good in the standard markets too and while the choice of markets might not be as big here as it is with some of the other bookies on this review list, the value that you’ll find at PalmerBet more than compensates.

Aside from the names that we’ve reviewed in greater detail, Aussie punters also like to use William Hill, Ladbrokes, Unibet and 10Bet amongst others. All of these display the key areas of choice and value that you can find with great prices across an extensive set of markets.

Betting on the National Rugby League carries more interest now than it ever has in the past so it pays to know where to place your bets and which bookmakers will prove to be the better homes for your money.