The European Champions Cup Final provides a betting opportunity in the sport of rugby union and the stats suggest Saracens should be backed to beat Clermont Auvergne in the handicap markets for the final at Murrayfield on Saturday. The deciding fixture in the competition brings together sides from the Premiership in England and France’s Top 14 League.
Compared to football, tennis and horse racing betting on rugby union is a minority interest. However, the match that is live on television provides an opportunity to make some money at the expenses of the bookmakers. There is a simple and effective system to profit from the most important club match in the sport. All the information you need is in a daily paper or online.
For individual rugby union matches bookies set a handicap, giving one side a head start according to the odds makers assessment of their relative chances. So if the league leaders are up against a team of strugglers the latter might be given a head start of 20 points. The usual odds are 5/6 or 10/11 and if you backed the underdogs and they lost by less than 20 points or drew or won the match you would win your bet. By contrast if you backed the favourites they would need to win by more than 20 points.
This method is more relevant in league fixtures but it can be applied to this final. It involves a simple calculation of finding each side’s points difference in the competition to date and dividing that by the number of matches played. You will arrive at a rating for each team which you must compare with the handicap line. Saracens have a slight ground advantage as they have less distance to travel and this can be expressed as two points which is added to their rating.
This method is based on the assumption that Saracens and Clermont have faced similar quality of the opposition and this is roughly the case. In the group and knockout stages they have had different opponents but of similar levels of ability. There is a margin for error in the calculation so we would hope for a large variance. Based on results in the competition and Saracens’ home field weighting the ratings are:
Clermont Auvergne 13.13
So, based on this strategy Saracens are in theory six points better than Clermont. That provides a number of betting opportunities. The industry handicap has been set at 5 points so this is not a bet. However, there is a market in which the variance between the rating and the handicap is more than three points. You can back Saracens minus two points at 8/13 with Ladbrokes. The odds are smaller because Clermont’s head start is smaller but the statistics suggest Saracens should be six point favourites.
To confirm any conclusions from this methodology collateral form can be used. The one common opponent this season were Toulouse but they had a weakened team when they were beaten 29-9 by Clermont. Saracens beat the French side by only 7 points but they were up against a full strength side so comparisons are not reliable. Taking collateral form to the next level of results against opponents of opponents the six point handicap seems about right.
Another way to confirm that we have found a betting opportunity is to check the results of recent matches between the two teams concerned. If recent results are in line with the ratings you can be more confident about the bet. However, special factors might be involved such as injuries and playing conditions so you should be wary of recent history when the sides meet.
There have been four meetings over the last three years, two home and away fixtures for both sides. Over this spell Saracens have outscored Clermont by 31 points which equates to a theoretical handicap of seven points which is almost in line with the ratings.
Statistics don’t tell the full story because injuries and recent form are also factors. However, both sides have progressed to the European Champions Cup Final and there will be no significant absentees so Saracens should be backed to cover a handicap of two points against Clermont in the showpiece match of the club season in Europe. For those who want a bet and don’t know the relative strengths of each side this could provide some interest but you should not go mad when placing your bet. There are lies, damned lies and statistics!