With the Rugby World Cup just weeks away, Simon Mail looks at the different ways to profit from the tournament...
"Even with seemingly inevitable outcomes, such as England opening with a win over Fiji, there are ways to back the underdog."
The Rugby World Cup is likely to have huge betting appeal especially with the tournament being hosted by an England side considered one of the nations in with a genuine chance of glory. To win, Stuart Lancaster's side will probably have to get past well-fancied favourites New Zealand. But for those of you that don't like lumping on short prices there are plenty of other ways to profit from the tournament.
World Cup format
The competition is made up of 20 teams with four pools each featuring five countries. Qualification to the knockout stage is secured by finishing in the top two spots. Teams will then have to make it through the tournament, from the quarter-final stage, with three victories required to get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup.
As well as betting on every single fixture in the World Cup, you can also back the team you think will finish top of each pool. Of course, teams such as New Zealand and South Africa are exceptionally short odds-on favourites.
But Pool A is an example of a competitive betting heat with England, Australia and Wales hard to split. If you are uncertain on first place, there is also the option to bet on qualification from the group although the odds on this are understandably much shorter.
With so many ways of scoring points in rugby, there are many more predictable outcomes than in football where the scarcity of goals makes upsets more likely. But even with seemingly inevitable outcomes, such as England opening with a win over Fiji, there are ways to back the underdog.
The way to do this is through handicap betting. For example, Fiji will be given a head start of points, in this case +28.5, to level the playing field. You must then decide whether England can overcome this handicap or if you think Fiji can hold onto this points advantage. The closer matched games, such as England and Australia, will see much smaller handicaps.
One of the most popular betting markets on rugby matches is the margin of victory. It offers you a way of finding value from backing the favourites. Taking England against Fiji as the example again, you can get 8.07/1 on a one to ten point win and 4.03/1 on an 11-20 point victory. The Sportsbook even allows you to back five point margins at even bigger odds so there is the chance of a big return if you make an inspired call.
Name the Finalists
As mentioned, defending champions New Zealand are a very short price to retain the trophy but there are alternatives to simply backing them to win. If you think hosts England can reach the final and face the All Blacks then you can bet on this and get 4.57/2 which is a great deal bigger than just backing New Zealand. And the best thing about it; they don't even have to win the final! As long as the two sides meet, you'll get a pay out.
There are other ways of getting a run for your money and one of these is betting on the player that scores the most tries. In this market, you need to consider whether it's worth backing someone from the fancied nations such as New Zealand's Julian Savea - he likely to feature in plenty of games throughout the tournament.
But another factor is the pool stage with games against weak opponents offering the potential for scoring regularly. A hat-trick in a group game may go a long way to deciding the winner so looking at the fixtures from the group stage could provide a strong indicator of the most prolific tryscorer.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster