Australia is one of the best places in the world to be a punter. In terms of codes, domestic and international markets and a slew of online bookmakers that make getting a bet on extraordinarily convenient, it is hard to find a better place than Australia to make some wagers.
The Excitement and Popularity of the NRL
For many people eager to get their regular fix of rugby league, the clearest choice of club competition to watch is the National Rugby League. In fact, it’s the world’s most viewed and attended club competition in rugby league, helping to firmly cement Australasia’s place on the rugby map. The story of how the NRL developed is a fascinating one, full of twists and turns – and it’s also interesting to see how the competition has reached its current popularity.
How the National Rugby League Has Grown in Popularity
If you want to see many of the best rugby players from across Australia and New Zealand in regular on-pitch action, you will probably struggle to look past the National Rugby League. It is, after all, the highest league in which Australasian professional rugby league men’s clubs compete. The league is run by Australia’s official governing body of rugby league football, the Australian Rugby League Commission, and is especially notable for its main competition, the Telstra Premiership.
The Telstra Premiership – so-called as it is currently sponsored by the Australian telecoms giant Telstra – comprises 16 teams, of which 15 are Australian entities and the other is New Zealand-based. Though the NRL was officially instituted in 1997, its history can, in a sense, actually be traced right back to 1908. That year, the governing body known as the New South Wales Rugby League formed its own premiership, Australia’s earliest rugby league football club contest.
That competition ran yearly until 1994, when its administration passed from the NSWRL to another governing body, the Australian Rugby League. That body soon, however, found itself embroiled in what history now calls the Super League war. The Super League was a separate body that competed with the ARL for control of Australasia’s top-tier professional rugby league competition. Eventually, in 1997, the two leagues ran separately by the ARL and Super League united as just one.
That newly formed league was the National Rugby League – and, in the years since, has gone from strength to strength. The 2003 season of the NRL, matches of which yearly take place in Australia and New Zealand from March until October, was widely deemed the league’s most successful up to that point. That year, Penrith Panthers scooped the title after rising from the foot of the table – and, in each year from 2003 to 2005, a new average attendance record was set.
The 2005 record was not broken until 2010 – and, in 2012, the independent Australian Rugby League Commission took over the NRL from the Australian Rugby League and News Corporation, which had been the NRL’s joint owners. The league has seen many further successes since then; so, what has helped to fuel its continued popularity?
It’s not an entirely straightforward question to answer, as regular viewers of NRL games would likely attest. However, a major TV deal has helped to make matches especially easy to catch up on from the comfort of a sofa, while TV money poured into the game has undoubtedly helped the actual teams. The league is also wonderfully unpredictable; which team will be the season’s surprise package that sends giants falling in its wake? Nobody knows – and that’s a beautiful thing.
How to Get Better at Betting on the National Rugby League
If you love keeping track of what’s going on in the National Rugby League, you might still have overlooked how much the excitement can be enhanced when bets are regularly placed on proceedings. There are various types of bets that you can place on rugby league, including…
Head-to-head betting – There’s a match between two sides and you decide which of them is the likeliest to win the match. If you bet on the team that the bookie deems the underdog, you stand to win an especially hefty amount of money – if, obviously, that team wins.
Line betting – Once you have mastered head-to-head betting, you might want to move onto line betting. This is where the bookmaker will handicap a head-to-head game by giving a point-based advantage to the underdog. Therefore, the odds are made more even than before.
First try scorer betting – Success in this can be rather a lottery, since every player on the pitch will have a decent likelihood of scoring. However, this means that the payout could be impressive if the game’s first try scorer indeed turns out to be the player you favour through this type of betting.
While your chances of betting success will largely depend on luck, there are still some strategies you can follow to stack the odds slightly more in your favour. For example, you should bet against teams that lack their first-choice fullback, five-eight, hooker or halfback, as these are influential positions.
You ought to also generally keep your bets away from teams that haven’t had as much time to rest as their opposition. Given rugby league’s brutality, the sport’s participants really need as much resting time as they can muster.
Some of the Biggest Contests for National Rugby League Players
For many people, the bread-and-butter of the NRL is, of course, its premiership season. This typically begins in early March and sparks a 26-week run of Premiership games. Therefore, the end of September is usually when the season wraps up. Each weekend in this run has its own round of matches, where – in most cases – there will be one match on Thursday evening, two on Friday evening, three on Saturday and, finally, two on Sunday.
With so much action happening on a weekly basis, it’s no wonder that rugby league fans are never short of excitement – and, it’s worth adding, opportunities to place bets. However, it isn’t just the outcomes of these main matches on which fans can bet. There are plenty of other matches that engage NRL teams and players each year. For example, during the preseason of February to March, the South Sydney Rabbitohs and St. George Illawarra Dragons contest the Charity Shield, while the Arthur Beetson Trophy is up for grabs at the All Stars match.
However, such is the international prestige of the National Rugby League, there are players of which who also take opportunities to compete against overseas clubs. This is the case with the annual tournament known as the World Club Series, where NRL teams clash with clubs from the Super League, the highest professional rugby league club competition of England and France. A key fixture of the World Club Series is the World Club Challenge, where the leagues’ two champions compete.
We also shouldn’t overlook the representative season, which tends to run from mid-April to mid-July. This season consists of numerous representative competitions for which NRL players can be chosen. Games that occur as part of the representative season include the Anzac Test and New South Wales City vs Country Origin match, which both happen on the same weekend in April. There is also the State of Origin series, where three matches are held across June and July.
Other representative fixtures include the Prime Minister’s XIII, which happens in Papua New Guinea during the rugby league season’s closing weeks. There is also the Four Nations tournament, which brings together the Australian, English and New Zealand champions along with another qualifier. However, we definitely shouldn’t neglect to detail the NRL Grand Final. One of Australia’s leading sports events, it determines the winner of the premiership season. Usually, the Prime Minister of Australia is at the event to personally give the victorious team’s captain the trophy.
The National Rugby League: A League Like No Other…
Even if this article has been your first introduction to the National Rugby League, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to see the magic of this league. Still, the true excitement of betting on the league’s developments is something you might have to experience to believe. Fortunately, there are plenty of online bookies for you to choose from if you want to place bets on National Rugby League games and players without you even needing to leave your house.
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