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Betting Advice for the 2021 United Rugby Championship with Odds, Groups, and Wagers

| September 19, 2021 7:46 am PDT

What’s happened to the PRO14? In short, it’s been replaced with a new tournament that starts on September 24, 2021.

The competition is called the United Rugby Championship (URC). It features all four Irish provinces, the four existing Welsh regions, four franchises from South Africa, as well as the two Italian and Scottish outfits.

That means 16 teams, in total, will be battling for the inaugural title in the 2021-22 season. I’ll be talking you through all you need to know about betting on the United Rugby Championship today.

In addition to the odds for the 2021 URC, there is plenty to cover about the format of the new championship, pools, rules, qualification for the European Rugby Champions Cup, and more.

Let’s get started with the latest 2021 United Rugby Championship odds for the inaugural championship and work our way through everything else.

2021 United Rugby Championship Odds

I have provided the odds above in fractional and American form.

If you’re looking for specific bets for the United Rugby Championship, including other futures, matches, top try scorers, and more, you can find them on our top online betting sites.

I’ll be touching on a few of the best wagers to place on the URC a little later. But let’s analyze some of the odds above to get a picture of what the bookmakers are predicting.

First, it’s no surprise to see Irish giants Leinster installed as the favorites to win the Grand Final. Leinster’s odds for the United Rugby Championship are -150, which isn’t short at all. As the season progresses, expect the price for Leo Cullen’s men to win to shorten drastically.

The Dublin-based outfit is the premier team in this competition and they will take some stopping.

Having owned the PRO14 and PRO12 in recent years, which were the previous incarnations of this tournament, the bookmakers believe that Leinster is nailed on to add an eighth title to the trophy room in Ballsbridge.

Aside from holding a record seven title wins, it’s also worth noting that Leinster has also finished runner-up in the competition five times, which is tied with provincial rivals, Munster.

It just so happens that the southern province rolls in as second-favorites to win the United Rugby Championship at +450.

There is a lot of talent in Limerick, and if the Men in Red can make it click, they could be a great bet for the championship this season.

The third favorite is another Irish province, Ulster. There is also reason to believe that Dan McFarland’s side could do well in the inaugural edition of this competition.

South Africa’s Bulls (+1200) are ahead of Wales and Scotland’s top representatives in the Scarlets (+2000), and Edinburgh (+2000), respectively.

United Rugby Championship Groups and Format

If you’re used to betting on the PRO 14, or any of the previous carnations of this competition, things look a little different this time around.

The regular season sees Regional Pools take over from what used to be a mixed pool format. That means that all four Irish provinces as well as the South African clubs as Welsh regions, will be grouped according to nationality.

The two Italian and two Scottish sides will share a pool.

How the URC Works

Here’s what you need to know.

  • The PRO14 conference system has been scrapped meaning there will be one league table.
  • Teams play six matches in total against teams in their pools.
  • This consists of playing each individual team twice. One home and one away fixture, apiece.
  • There are a further 12 matches against teams from other groups to be played, consisting of six home and six away ties.
  • The eight top teams at the end of the season qualify for the quarter-finals of the URC.
  • All eight teams are seeded according to their respective finishing position.
  • From here, a knockout system consisting of semi-finals and a URC Grand Final takes place.

As far as the structure and format for the United Rugby Championship go, it’s straightforward.

It’s essentially a league consisting of 16 participants, but with the regional pools serving as a necessary way to determine playoff qualification.

And, of course, to circumvent any potential issues with travel, due to the ongoing pandemic.

2021 URC Regional Pools
Irish Pool Italian-Scottish Pool South African Pool Welsh Pool
Connacht Benneton Bulls Cardiff
Leinster Glasgow Warriors Lions Dragons
Muster Edinburgh Sharks Ospreys
Ulster Zebre Stormers Scarletts

As you can see from the table above, the teams are neatly packed into four groups.

You might have questions about how URC teams qualify for European competitions. If so, the next section explains everything.

United Rugby Championship Format: Qualifying for Europe

Eight teams from the URC will qualify for the 2022-23 Heineken Champions Cup, also known as the European Rugby Champions Cup (ERCC), with the other eight earning a spot in the Challenge Cup.

Points accrued in the competition apply to regional pool rankings, with the winners of all four pools guaranteed a spot in the ERCC. The other four spots go to the highest-ranked teams in the league table, who are yet to punch their ticket to the premier European rugby tournament.

For the first time ever, South African teams can qualify for both European championships.

That alone should be exciting to see, especially as the PRO14 prevented the Cheetahs and Southern Kings from playing in the ERCC or Challenge Cup. 

Pooling all teams according to their respective nations ensures that at least one representative from each country will appear in the European Rugby Champions Cup, or Heineken Cup, as it is otherwise known.

Italy and Scotland, of course, share a pool. Things will be slightly different on that front, but it’s highly unlikely that a Scottish team will fail to win the Italo-Scots pool.

When does the URC Start?

  • Round 1: September 24, 2021
  • First Game: Zebre vs. Lions

The United Rugby Championship kicks off with Zebre vs. Lions on Friday, September 24. The opening match will be played at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, Italy.

Dates and times for URC matches have been announced. So, make sure to check out the full list of fixtures for the United Rugby Championship to get a better idea of who has the best early run.

Now we have covered the format, rules, groups, and schedule for the United Rugby Championship, let’s look at the top contenders for the URC.

Will Leinster dominate in 2021-22?

Top Contenders for the United Rugby Championship in 2021

Who wins the United Rugby Championship?

That’s a good question, even with Leinster and Munster looking like the top contenders for the championship crown and the oddsmakers looking towards both to pick up the title.

Let’s assess the favorites to win the United Rugby Championship and take a quick look over their credentials.


Leinster Rugby Logo
  • Nation: Ireland
  • Last Season: 1st
  • Predicted Pool Finish: 1st

Leinster’s dominance of the PRO14 in recent years has produced four consecutive titles, including a victory in the truncated 2020-21 season.

The Dubliners are blessed with world-class operators and elites such as Tadhg Furlong, Robbie Henshaw, James Ryan, Garry Ringrose, and Jordan Larmour.

In addition to the emerging talents of their world-renowned academy, they look a tough outfit to beat this season.

Leinster’s odds to win the United Rugby Championship install them as the favorites to win the Irish Pool (-275), the regular season (-175), and the Grand Final (-150).

If players such as Scott Penny and Jordan Larmour continue to cross the whitewash with aplomb, as expected, they could make for a good early bet.

The champions kick off their campaign against the Bulls at the RDS on September 25. The South Africans will be without their Springboks stars, so expect it to be a major statement of intent by the hosts.


Munster Rugby Logo
  • Nation: Ireland
  • Last Season: 2nd
  • Predicted Pool Finish: 2nd

Once the dominant team in Ireland as well as Europe, Munster has had to play second fiddle for some time now.

Runners-up to their bitter rivals in the final PRO14 season, they also finished in 2nd place with Italy’s Benneton first in the northern section of the Rainbow Cup.

Like the champions, the first-team squad at Munster is stacked with both elite talent and some exciting, emerging prospects.

Gavin Coombes, for example, is expected to go very far on the world level and that will only help to get the best out of the likes of Damian De Allende, RG Snyman, Conor Murray, Joey Carberry, and Keith Earls.

The return of Simon Zebo is a huge boost to the region, with some suggesting his presence could push the Limerick-based side a step above the rest.

The odds for Munster to win the United Rugby Championship Grand Final make them a great plus money bet at +450. But don’t expect that price to stay as plump if they show early promise.


Bulls Rugby Logo
  • Nation: South Africa
  • Last Season: N/A
  • Predicted Pool Finish: 1st 

The Bulls arrive as one of the new teams in the updated competition.

We have seen some legendary names appear for the Pretorians over the years, with Bryan Habana, Joost van der Westhuizen, Victor Matfield, and Morne Steyn all wearing the famous blue shirt.

Fans are excited to see if the Bulls will bring a little Southern Hemisphere flair to the competition. But the side will be without their star Springboks until December, with the Rugby Championship, as well as health reasons putting a dent in their chances. 

With that said, the Bulls could be among the top contenders to win the United Rugby Championship given that South African sides will have the advantage of a five-week break later in the year.

The one-week bye and one-week break for all URC teams — in addition to the universal three-week rest during the international window — could help them come on strong late in the season.


Ulster Rugby Logo
  • Nation: Ireland
  • Last Season: 2nd in Conf. A
  • Predicted Group Finish: 3rd

Although expected to go wild on the transfer front, Ulster reinforced their ranks with just Mick Kearney coming in from Zebre.

But as I was literally preparing to upload this, confirmation of the signing of Springboks legend Duane Vermeulen is being reported. Wow.

The northern province has a solid side with captain Iain Henderson and scrumhalf John Cooney integral to their potential success. With Vermeulen, they could be bona fide contenders.

Although installed as the third favorite to win the United Rugby Championship, I wasn’t sure that we will see much improvement from the Ulster Men.

Vermeulen single-handedly gives them a huge boost.

They did seem a little expensive at odds of +800. But there is no doubt that there is now even more talent at Ravenhill.

Ulster finished second to Leinster in Conference A of the PRO14 in their last campaign before looking a shell of themselves in the Rainbow Cup. Still, there is hope in the six counties that things will click this season.

If McFarland can get his outfit off to an early start, they could be a big, big threat.

Don’t write them off.


Scarlets Rugby Logo
  • Nation: Wales
  • Last Season: 3rd in Conf. B
  • Predicted Pool Finish: 1st 

Former Llanelli and Scarlets legend Dwayne Peel takes the reigns at Parc y Scarlets as the region’s new head coach.

Glenn Delaney left his post during the Rainbow Cup, opening the door for the decorated Wales scrumhalf to take his dream job.

It should be a massive boost to the men in red, who are seen as the only Welsh region capable of competing for the top prize.

The latest odds for the United Rugby Championship have the Scarletts as +2000 outsiders to win the Grand Final next spring. But with some top talent and fledgling young prospects, could we see the West Walians provide more of a challenge than that price suggests?

It’s going to be fun to find out.

Williams and Halfpenny will be integral to their region’s chances of winning a first title since 2016-17.

Types of Bets to Place on the 2021 URC

As mentioned earlier, there are numerous United Rugby Championship bets and markets you can target.

The season has yet to commence, which means that there are plenty of odds for the URC to choose from. When things get started there will still be plenty of markets, of course, with odds for United Rugby Championship fixtures appearing on the radar every week.

Here’s a quick look at the types of rugby bets you can place both before and during the season.


In short, URC futures betting is a lot of fun. These types of wagers essentially involve making predictions for things that happen later down the line, rather than on a specific match.

The prices are often better the earlier you get your wagers down.

  • Pool Winner – Bet on the winner of any/all of the four Regional Pools in the URC. If that team wins their pool, you get paid.
  • Regular Season Winner – Who finishes top of the league after all games have been played? If you guess right, you win your bet.
  • Grand Final Winner – To be thinking about the final match of the season before a ball has been kicked might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you can accurately predict who stands to win that match, the United Rugby Championship odds will be much better the earlier you wager.
  • Player of the Season – One of the top tips for the United Rugby Championship that bettors will be looking for is who wins the player of the campaign.

Prop Bets

Proposition wagers, better known as prop bets or simply props, are a fun way to gamble on the United Rugby Championship.

You can find props for all kinds of things, both relating to the championship itself and specific games. Take for example the following.

  • Top Points Scorer – Who ends a match with the most points? Let’s say you back Joey Carberry at odds of +300, and he scores more than anyone else. If that ends up being the case, you could make a serious profit. 
  • Top Try Scorer – Like the top points scorer bet, you can also bet on who scores the most tries in a match. These types of bets are also available under futures categories, too. For example, you could get Scott Penny at +600 to finish as the top try scorer with some sites for betting on rugby.
  • Man of the Match – Looking to bet on who is awarded the player of the game? If you’re right, you are paid out at the relevant odds.
  • Combination Props – These types of bets can be very profitable. For example, Johnny Sexton to score a try, a conversion, and a penalty could payout as high as +900.(highlight list blue)
Johnny Sexton Scoring Try and Kicking Goal in Leinster Uniform

In-Match Bets

There are plenty of in-match bets you can target. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Winning Team/Moneyline – This bet involves gambling on the team that wins the game. Pick the winner and win your bet. Simple.
  • Handicap/Spread Betting –  As the gulf in quality between many sides will be sizeable, the bookies will look to bridge the gap by offering a spread or handicap. Leinster starts with -10 points while Connacht starts with +10. Providing you beat the spread, you win your bet.
  • Points Totals – Let’s say the bookies set the Over/Under for the Bulls vs. Cardiff at 65.5 points. Your bet will be whether the total points scored in the match are over or under that figure. Guess right to win.
  • Try Scorer Bets – First try scorer, last try scorer, anytime try scorer. There are many options to choose from that could make you money if you are wagering on URC games.

Don’t forget that you can also try your hand at live betting on the United Rugby Championship, too.

Live betting is a lot of fun and can be a great way to gamble on matches, especially when there is little to nothing to separate sides. It basically gives you a better idea of the flow of the game and makes it easier to predict who’s hot and who has come into the match a little cold.

If you’re still pondering the type of bets you can place on the United Rugby Championship, our rugby betting guide has some additional advice that can help. Check it out!

More Advice for Betting on the United Rugby Championship

Rugby fans are in for a real treat this season.

Aside from the Leinster-Munster rivalry, the four South African franchises are going to bring some major crunch to the table. With some world-class Springboks set to go head to head with the best of the old PRO14, could we see the days of Irish dominance a thing of the past?

Who wins the United Rugby Championship?

It’s hard to look past Leinster winning the Grand Final, given the disadvantages the South Africans will face early on.

The United Rugby Championship odds have not excluded the chances of the Welsh regions upsetting the applecart. however. And the Scots and Italians will be more than up for the challenge.

If you’re looking to bet on the URC, make sure to check in on the following sections of our site for the latest expert URC gambling advice and recommended picks for the games.

Until next time!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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