Category Archives: TOP 14 Rugby Betting

Top 14 rugby betting – Semi thoughts 2014

Top 14 rugby betting

Some early thoughts up for this weekend’s TOP 14 semi finals. There’s an overall lack of pattern but some interesting history there nonetheless.

First, a table of results from the past 5 years of TOP 14 semi final playoffs. The middle column contains the semi final lineups for that year, the third colum shows the previous results that season for teams contesting those semi-finals.

[table id=35 /]

As you can see, there’s not many patterns other than the lack of an overall pattern.

In general though Look at Clermont’s results after winning in 2010 – they just don’t seem to have the hunger anymore after those many years waiting – look at 2012 for example – they had Toulon beaten well home and away in the season and then lost the semi at home.

There seems to be a certain amount of keeping the powder dry in March when teams play away from home – Probably because the hard work has been done and they have a plan on where they are going to finish. Also, there must be an element of not wanting to show your full hand against a potential playoff contender.

In general ( i say general as one or two out of kilter on this) but the teams that tend to win the semi’s are the teams that did well in the shit in winter against each other.

You get the feeling that Castres were building a side, and there is a clear progression to winning last year’s semi final, and then of course final.

Toulon have been in the semi-mix since 2012, and the progression suggests they are on here. I have also been saying from the start that this is what they want this year after coming so close, and so many big names in the side want it in their trophy cabinets. However, this is where their big names let them down I think – and their LACK of French players. I feel like the Bouclier means so much more to the teams with more frenchies, and I think this is a passion that the mercs in Toulon find it hard to counter each year at the crunch end of the season. The European cup is a different story unless you’re playing an Irish side in their prime, which neither Munster or Leinster were this season.

Racing Metro might seem like a foreign squad too, but check this out, it’s nearly all Frenchies, with a driven Irishman in Sexton the main man. 

Sexton is likely back in Ireland next year for my money, and his motivations here are unquestionable – not many Irishmen have won the TOP14.

As you can see I’m spit-balling alot here. But in general some trends are pointing to Castres being happy with last year, and Racing being in with a major shout v Toulon ( a side they’ve had no fear of in recent years too).

Look how poor Clermont went in the league playoffs after winning it in 2010. Look how utterly static Toulouse have gone since the 2011 and 2012 wins, plodding along and underperforming. Stade Francais and Biarritz in a similar vein from the years before.

Castres beat Montpellier in the Barrage last year 25 – 13 so there’s a BIG element of revenge here for Monty. Racing Metro were knocked out in the Barrage last year by Toulouse 33-19 – they were not going to let that happen again this year and look what happened – they won this time around last week. They also have last year’s winning coaches on board, who masterminded a shock Bouclier win last year ( though some people in the forum kept saying Castres were being underestimated).

In 2012 in the Barrages, Castres yet again knocked Montpellier out by the 25 – 12, and Toulon knocked Racing out by 17-13.

Both Monty and Racing are coming into these games with arguably more french hunger, and with major chips on their shoulders.

We’re not set in our bets on this yet, but hopefully the above will help, and some of you can help narrow the meaning of it all.

There’s a list of Free Rugby bets here

And lots more top 14 info and opinion in our Rugby Betting forum here, with the current thread in the private contributing members area, to be released on Friday at 4.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round eleven

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round eleven

It’s a small stakes weekend in the TOP14 with so many players away on International duty. In recent years this has become more and more pronounced with so many players from Argentina, Wales and even Scotland plying their trade in the TOP14. We’re talking about these games in the betting forum here, so we’ll just put up some quick thoughts on this post as we’ve very little time to go too in depth.

After Friday’s nights second half capitulation from Montpellier we’re generally stearing clear of the TOP14 for the rest of the weekend- it’s too hard to read mentalities to have proper sized punts.

For Clermont v Toulon, Toulon look an excellent pick on the face of things away at Clermont, but they went to Toulouse with a very strong side and completely threw in the towel a few months back, and management this week have said words to the effect of ‘its just a game like any other’. They should be ramping this up and scenting blood really. Nothing more than small stakes should go on the Toulon +5 still available in Boylesports. Clermont have a great backline but they’re thin enough in the pack, with Cudmore at in at 6. Rado at nine doesn’t inspire confidence and James at ten got the yips last week in Agen and cost us a pretty penny leaving 15 points behind him. It was windy then, and it’s windy tomorrow (blowing 25kmph winds) so all in all the Toulon +5 is the best pick but small to medium stakes only. There is motivation for Toulon too (beyond going further clear at the top), as i’m sure they’d like to break the Clermont winning streak at home, and that’s been on the cards since Stade Francais screwed up at the death there a few months back.

We don’t see alot in the other games other than tight games – and in the final three games there shouldn’t be much in them. We’ve stuck a tenner for interest on a treble of Grenoble, Biarritz and Bordeaux all winning by 1-12 points, which works out biggest in Ladbrokes at just under 16/1. ( 6/4, 13/8 and 6/4)

There’s plenty of discussion in the forum on the TOP 14 so head on over if you’ve any thoughts.


TOP 14 bettingToulouse v Montpellier, Toulouse -13.

Toulouse at home are difficult to oppose as usual. However they’re very lightweight due to injuries and international callups. It’s still a strong side, but Montpellier’s isn’t so bad either and with their recent away record (wins at Racing and Bordeaux), and the awful rain about in France this week (and for the game) you’d expect them to stay inside the handicap. Rather than that, the 1-12 biggest 7/4 in Ladbrokes and Stanjames looks the value pick for small to medium stakes. This is the second week in a row that we’re effectively opposing the Toulouse handicap at home, let’s hope we get a bit more luck this week. Monty will be up for it more than Racing were, that’s for sure. Matanavou is named at 11 in the rain and that’s all we needed to see- Monty will be dropping bombs on him all night in the rain and he’s butterfingers generally these conditions. The +13 is also a decent punt though we can’t see them winning- so the 1-12 is probably the best pick here.

Toulouse/Montpellier ht/ft at a very big 16/1 in paddypower appeals too for value. It’s not the strongest bench for Toulouse, and Montpellier have some good impact there.

More to follow

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round ten – All Saints

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round ten

La Toussaint – or all Saints day, brings us a feast of midweek rugby this week, starting at 1:10 pm GMT and running through to roughly 5 pm. Games will be on canal+, setanta Ireland, or via your internerd (if you’re in work you might get away with a stream in the bottom corner of your screen)…. As a general observation; most players SHOULD be well up for these games even with the expected squad rotations, with national audiences watching in big numbers on their day off. This is an assumption of course, but worth bearing in mind.

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 13:10pm, Grenoble v Biarritz, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Grenoble -3 5/6 Stanjames, Biarritz +4 evs Victor Chandler.

Grenoble have beaten a four point handicap in every one of their home games this season, against Perpignan, Racing metro, , Stade Francais, and Mont de Marsan. Biarritz have been surprisingly effective on the road, just recently staying within seven away at Clermont, and losing by a point at Racing metro. They’re both neck and neck in the table in sixth and seventh place, and with rotten weather in the general area since late last week (it snowed in Grenoble on Sunday), rain today and a brief respite tomorrow morning, this one looks set to be a real arm-wrestle.

Biarritz start with Peyrelongue and Traille at nine and ten, so there’s plenty of experience there, but with a slight doubt over Peyrelongue’s fitness. With two accomplished kickers and the weather the way it is, expect Biarritz to kick almost everything and try to feed off mistakes, and vice versa from Grenoble. Grenoble bring Sowerby and others back from resting in the loss away to Montpellier, and generally when he plays they do well. Courrent – the Grenoble kicker – is second only to Wilkinson in the TOP14 kicking stats so they should take any opportunities they get

This is likely going to be a low scoring tussle between two mid-table rivals looking to get one over on each other. We’re not confident on the handicap of 4 for either side (incidentally it started at -3 for Grenoble). Looking at recent results Biarritz have done well in poor conditions in Clermont and in the Heineken cup, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they won this one out of sheer stubbornness, so we’re not even interested in the 1-12 Grenoble at a miserable 6/4 biggest in bet365, despite the fact it is the most likely result. We are going to have a small interest though and save our bigger bets for other games.

TOP14 rugby betting – Main bet (Small stakes for interest) – Back the draw at biggest 20/1 in bet365 (18/1 is good too elsewhere). Statistically we’re due a glut of draws in France as they’ve been few and far between so far this season. Two teams neck and neck in the table, miserable conditions – this is probably going to be one of those games where a draw will be the only fair result, and there’s a better-than-usual chance of it coming in. A win will give us a nice bank to work with for the weekend. If you want to be slightly more conservative, you can get ‘any result involving a draw’ at 13/2 (market only in Paddypower). this pays off if it’s a draw at half time or fulltime.

130 pm games

Top14 Rugby Betting, Agen v Clermont, Online streams, Clermont -8 everywhere.

Clermont (2nd) head to Agen (13th, and worst defence in the league) without Morgan Parra, but other than that they look as good as they have in the recent Heineken cup games. We’re always cautious about backing teams away from home in France to beat big handicaps, but there’s reason to look at it here. Aside from Parra Clermont have the same backline from the Heineken Cup games except for Buttin at full back (with Byrne on the bench), and a similar pack. Toulon are setting the pace at the top of the table and away wins have taken on a new importance for the likes of Clermont and Toulouse.

They have a perfect opportunity here at Agen as they’ve a rake of injuries, and they look to be putting out a pretty weak offering tomorrow. Whether all of these injuries are actually real or not is another thing, but it’s clear they’re expecting to lose the game and with Agen in the position they are in, they need to be pragmatic and rest whatever quality they have and pick their battles. They’ve picked the young and inexperienced flyhalf Lamoulie at full back tomorrow and that seals the deal for us.

TOP14 rugby betting – Main bet, medium stakes – Take Clermont -8 at 10/11 in paddypower and elsewhere before it likely moves out after the official Agen team announcement. The only thing that could hinder this is the small bit of light rain that is forecast but if Clermont turn up they’ll get a bonus point.

Bayonne v Bordeaux – No bet for us here ( apart from 2 quid on the draw double with Grenoble/Biarritz for 500/1!). Bayonne should win this with many changes for the better from last week’s side, but you couldn’t count on them, and not just because of the Toulon result – they were bad at Dragons too with roughly tomorrows starting team. If you had to have a bet it would be Bordeaux +10 – they almost beat Toulouse at home a few weeks ago and will fancy this after Bayonne’s performance last week. If you’re looking for something slightly less risky you can also get Clermont -7.5 at 5/6 , only in ladbrokes for a drop of 8% in winnings (10/11 vs 5/6).

15:15 Last Game

Top14 Rugby Betting, Toulouse v Racing Metro, Canal+ , Setanta, Toulouse -11 bet365, Racing Metro +13 Stanjames

Why did Toulouse lose last week at Stade Francais by 4 points? Well, they were missing a raft of experienced players, and they had a less than stellar ten in Bezy. This week, McCallister is back at ten and Picamoles comes back into the backrow with Galan (who was excellent last week).

Toulouse haven’t played many games at home recently but since the start of the season game v Castres which they won by a point, they’ve beaten a 12 point handicap at home in every game since, including at home v Leicester in the Heineken cup. Of those TOP14 games, it’s fair to say that not alot of teams went to Toulouse with serious effort except Mont De Marsan – who almost pulled off a shock until their lack of a bench told. So despite the statistics, it must be remembered than many of the sides that pitched up in Toulouse were weakened, and in most of them Toulouse had a stronger side out than they do on Thursday, and they’re still missing their captain Dusatoir.

Racing Metro show up tomorrow with a rhobust looking first fifteen that is almost their strongest lineup. Barkley hasn’t played inside centre in a while but he’s well able having played there for England and Bath quite a bit. Germain is back at full back and he’ll likely take their kicks. The pack is first choice and all in all it’s hard to see where Toulouse have a very clear advantage except a slight one in the backs, and the fact they’re at home.

In terms of winning and losing margins for Racing Metro, here’s where it really gets interesting. Since the start of the season, Racing Metro have won or lost nine of their total eleven games (including Heineken cup) within 1-12 points. Of the two they lost outside of that margin, one was a fourteen point loss was away at Grenoble (after a late kick through scrambling try for Grenoble that cost us a lump!), and the other was in the Heineken cup where they lost to Saracens away with a weaker team than this, and with no Hernandez or Germain (and they almost get back within the 1-12 towards the end of that game, and stopped a Saracens getting a bonus point). The weather is set to be showery tomorrow afternoon, and it has rained a fair bit across France all week.

Racing started to lose games this season when they lost their main kickers in Germain and Wisniewski. With Barkley and Germain they don’t have that problem anymore and this big pack are set up to squeeze points out of the opposition. For the public holiday game tomorrow they’ve named a full squad and I can’t see them not turning up to play with this being the biggest and last game of the day in France. With Racing’s recent record, the large public audience, the strength of the Racing lineup and Toulouse being still short of a full deck; there’s only one bet for us here.

TOP14 rugby betting – Main bet – we’ve taken Racing Metro +13 only at Stanjames (12 elsewhere).. I know it’s tough for people to back against Toulouse at home on the handicap, but almost every sign points to Racing staying with them tomorrow.

Small stakes thought – for anyone who thinks Racing Metro have a chance of a win tomorrow (we do, a small one, but not insignificant), then Paddy power have a ridiculous price on Toulouse half time/Racing full time at 17/1; It is nowhere near as unlikely as that looking at that Racing side named for tomorrow.

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, round nine

TOP14 Rugby Betting preview round 9

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 14:00 Stade Francais v Toulouse, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Toulouse +2 10/11 PaddyPower, Stade Francais scratch 10/11 stanjames

Toulouse rock up to Paris for the Classico at 2pm, and they’re in bad shape. Picamoles, Dusatoir, McCallister, Beauxis, Botha, Steemkanpf, Albacete, Tolufua and many others are missing and a weak enough Bezy is at ten (though he could switch around with Burgess at nine). It is at most half a first choice Toulouse team. Toulouse have had a good run in the Heineken cup, but the week before they came very close to losing away at Bordeaux with a stronger team than this.

Stade Francais are at virtually full strength with Porical back to kick their goals, and formwise in the league they’re putting some good results together with the challenge cup; narrowly losing away at Clermont, and beating Mont de Marsan away (and remember, away form has been their big problem). With unusually good recent away form they should perform well at home.

Looking at the Toulouse side there’s plenty of experience and quality, and it’s tempting to side with them and the decent bench, but there’s too many changes and lynchpins missing from the side. The clincher for us here is that many of the Toulouse starters for this game are just back from injury and won’t be 100%. When you put that into the melting pot with an unreliable goalkicker/flyhalf, and Porical’s metronomic boot for Stade Francais, it’s hard to see Toulouse winning this battle starting with so many disadvantages. Revenge for last years beating is in the air and Stade Francais won’t get many better opportunities..

TOP14 Rugby Betting – Main bet – Take Stade Francais to simply win – 10/11 in Betfred, Sportingbet or Stanjames

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 17:30 Toulon v Bayonne, canal+ . Toulon -19 Ladbrokes, Bayonne +22 Paddypower

Bayonne are on four straight wins but they’ve been against relatively mediocre teams compared to what they face later today at 5:30. They don’t have their main starting fifteen out here, they have a ten in potgieter who will be rusty, and they could be in for another tough evening with Toulon having put 50 on them last year in this fixture.

Toulon name a virtual full side if you include the bench and will doubtless be chasing a bonus point win here and more. Wilkinson is in good form and is taking his kicks when they come which should keep the scoreboard ticking over. Two worries are Giteau on the bench and not starting at 12 (Toulon always seem to play better with him at inside centre) and Michalak is at nine where his service has been less than exemplary. Both of these positional situations mean we’re not thinking of big handicaps here.

We were already on Toulon -19 in a small way with good weather forecast and indications of a weakened Bayonne team, but after Ulster’s demolition of Dragons last night we topped up our stake; with a full team last week Bayonne struggled to beat that same Dragons side by three points and that is the clearest recent indicator that they’re unlikely to stay inside the handicap here.

TOP14 Rugby Betting – Main bet – Take Toulon -19 still available in Ladbrokes (-20/21 elsewhere). 3 tries is a bonus point plus four or five Wilkinson pens and another try for good measure – should be well enough to get us over the line. Paddy power are expecting over 3 tries, pricing that up at 1/2, so it’s not only us expecting Toulon to beat the cap.

Not much else immediately jumps out this week for big bets in the TOP14, but we’ll have a few extra punts in the forum throughout the day no doubt.

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, Round eight

TOP14 Rugby Betting preview round 8

Top 14 Rugby – last week’s (rd 7) results
Biarritz 15 – 16 Bayonnais
Toulouse 32 – 9 Toulon
SU Agen 19 – 15 Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Grenoble 27 – 13 Racing Métro 92
Montpellier 19 – 12 Castres Olympique
USAP 15 – 6 Mont-de-Marsan
ASM Clermont 28 – 25 Stade Français
Current Top14 Match Odds

Just a quick note on this weekend’s french rugby betting- all referees are going to be from the Rabo and the Aviva Premiership, so there’s a bit of opportunity possibly if you follow homer refs.

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 14:00 Biarritz v Toulon, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Biarritz -1 everywhere, Toulon +2 Ladbrokes Ladbrokes

This won’t take long – we’r ebacking Toulon and have been on them since midweek if you read our accumulator post. Biarritz have lost the last three, and Toulon have almost all of their main men back, and it’s a star studded lineup. Biarritz start Beqvuist at ten who didn’t exactly light things up at Leinster, and aside from Damian Traille there’s not much to get excited about.

Take the +2 in Ladbrokes before it disappears tomorrow afternoon, we are. DOn’t even think about the Toulon 1-12, as they could quite conceivably win by more.

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 19:50 Castres v Clermont, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Castres -5 evens Boylesports, Clermont +5 10/11 Ladbrokes

It’s not often you’ll see Clermont as big as 5/2 (sportingbet) to beat Castres, and initial thoughts are that the +5 start looks a tad too big. One fascinating stat that I wasn’t aware of is that Clermont haven’t beaten Castres away from home in ….36 years! I hate stats like that because no matter how much you want to ignore them, they keep knocking at you whenever a conclusion looks possible. Looking at the last five games, Clermont are unbeaten, including a wondrous win at the death last week courtesy of a drop goal by Brock james. He’s picked to start here again and looks set to start for the Heineken cup too (all points bets are off so…). They looked dead and buried in that game, and that type of win does wonders for the soul of sports players. In Castres they face a team who are unbeaten at home (beating noone special- Bayonne, Biarritz and Grenoble) and losing their last two away (Toulon and a middling Montpellier side).

So the form is definitely with Clermont, and they have some important quality returnees too – Hines is back along with Vosloo, and the rest of the side is easily a match for Castres, excepting Radosavljevic at nine (while Parra is injured/rested for next week)- as Kockott at scrumhalf for Castres has been brilliant this season and is the far better player. Jacquet is a bit of a one trick pony in the second row (and likes bouncing balls and kicking boots off players lying defenceless on the ground from time to time) but he’s better than liability number one Cudmore, who is in a cryogenic freeze chamber in the french Alps to keep him cold for next week. Jp Doyle referees this game and while he can be a bit iffy, you couldn’t call him a homer of a ref.

Weather tomorrow is set to be good, so the Clermont backline should be well able to put scores on the board. After last weeks morale boosting rescue of a game long dead, better form, and a lineup that will be gearing up for Heineken cup intensity next week, our pick here is Clermont +5. You couldn’t back the win however tempting it looks with the stats of 36 years of league games against them, but they should do well enough to get a losing bonus at least, and run Castres very close.

More to follow

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, Round 7

TOP14 Rugby Betting preview round 6

Top 14 Rugby Fixtures- all times GMT
Friday 28/09
19:50 ASM Clermont Stade Français
Sat 29/09
17:30 SU Agen Union Bordeaux-Bègles
17:30 Grenoble Racing Métro 92
17:30 Montpellier Castres Olympique
17:30 USAP Mont-de-Marsan
19:45 Toulouse Rugby Club Toulon
Sun 30/09
16:05 Biarritz Aviron Bayonnais
Rugby Match Odds

Top14 Rugby Betting GMT 19:45 Toulouse v Rugby Toulon, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Toulouse -9 10/11 Stanjames, Toulon +11 10/11 Paddypower

The handicap on this has been up and then down over the course of the week with rumours circulating that Toulon were sending over a second team. It turns out that they haven’t; yes it’s not their first team, but cast your eyes over the bench for Toulon and you’ll see some serious strength – Van niekerk, Hayman, Armitage (the good one), Giteau, Palisson, and Chris Masoe to come on and run through people. Looking at the starting 15’s, there’s no massive gulf in class, and Toulon are going to send Bastareaud running a the 18 year olf Fickou at inside centre from the get-go.

Toulon are unbeaten and Toulouse have been all over the place all season so far. There’s just no justification for +11 to be ignored with that bench and current form. Paddypower are the only one with +11 probably because they were first out with handicaps and have pretty big liabilities with early movers moving for the -12 they had available, based on the erroneous rumours.
There’s one other pick that is a daft price and it’s rare i’d tell people to back this but back it you should; The halftime/fulltime Toulouse/Toulon is a whopping 16/1 biggest in Paddypower, and should definitely get the fiddlers in your pocket. With revenge in mind, and an awesome bench this should never be so big.

Main pick – Toulon +11 paddypower: value bet of the weekend – Toulouse/Toulon ht/ft and a frankly ridiculous 16/1

Top14 Rugby Betting 19:50 GMT, ASM Clermont Stade Français, Setanta Sports, canal+ . Clermont -16 10/11 Ladbrokes, Stade Francais +18 10/11 bet365

The handicap has been getting bigger on this one since Thursday as Stade Francais are sending over a weakened side missing Parrisse, Contepomi and with Porical on the bench. Clermont are missing Rougerie and still have to make do with backrow injuries. Cudmore starts in the second row and i’m often hesitant whenever I see him starting games as he’s simply a liability. It’s a hesitancy overcome easy enough though when you remember how poor Stade Francais are on the road. Nalaga and Sivivatu on the wings just spells tries against a semi-committed Stade Francais setup, and the weather is set to be fine. It’s hard to imagine Clermont not getting a bonus point which means scoring three tries more than Stade. That’s fifteen points plus a conversion or two, and a few penalties and when you think about it like that the -16 starts to look far more attractive. Add to that the fact that Stade are leaderless and the main man Porical is on the bench, and you have a good bet on the -16.

The Pick here is Clermont -16 in Ladbrokes (-17 and -18 everywhere else )

Don’t forget to head over to our Rugby Betting Forum to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest.

TOP14 Rugby Betting, Round 6

TOP14 Rugby Betting preview round 6

Match Odds

Top 14 Fixtures
21/09 19:50 Aviron Bayonnais v Stade Toulousain
22/09 14:00 Rugby Club Toulonnais v Castres Olympique
– 17:30 Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Montpellier Hérault Rugby
– 17:30 ASM Clermont v Grenoble
– 17:30 Mont-de-Marsan v SU Agen
– 17:30 Stade Français v USAP
– 19:40 Racing Métro 92 v Biarritz Olympique

Top14 Rugby Betting Bayonne v Toulouse 7.50pm GMT, Setanta Sports, canal +. Toulouse -4 Ladbrokes, Bayonne +5 Bet365

Bayonne have only won once in their first five opening games, with their one win coming at home to the away-day-duds Stade Francais. The four losses have all been by 1-12 points which at least shows they’ve been competitive to a point. Last week they lost 25-18 to a Racing side that always looked on top of things and always looked the better side.

Toulouse were well beaten last weak by a fired up Perpignan team that never gave them a chance to get into the game. Pure pace and tempo blew Toulouse away and it was all over by half time. Toulouse are strangely out of sorts of late. They’re like an old gigalo who knows he can get it together but is too proud to take viagra but they’ll buck up and get down to business sooner or later. It’s funny how the Ospreys have also had a horrible start to the season after winning the Rabo Pro 12, and Toulouse have had a very similar experience after winning the Top14. For us Rugby bettors, the question for us simply when will they get their act together and give us some consistent form.

It’ll likely be this weekend where things start to come around for them. Noves has made six changes in response to the hiding they got last week – (34-20 flattered them), most notably Picamoles being replaced by Nyanga. This is a statement that the hangover is well and truly over and things need to chage right now. Nyanga also looked a new man coming off the bench last week, and he looks leaner and faster than he has for years. The big new French prospect Fickou (19 years old) starts in the centre and by all accounts he’s one for the future. This could be just what Toulouse need to inject some fresh blood into the old warhorse. I’ve been burned a few weeks now by Toulouse but Bayonne showed nothing last week to make me want to back them for anything more than a losing bonus point, and Toulouse will have been ridden sideways this week by Noves in training.

Expect Toulouse to get back to winning ways- 1-12 is biggest in Ladbrokes at 6/4 ( 7/5 elsewhere). It looks short but it’s that short for a reason. If you want something slightly bigger, williamhill have Toulouse 1-10 biggest at 7/4. Another possible big priced punt here is Bayonne ht/ Toulouse ft at biggest 13/2 in Paddypower. Toulouse have been slow starters in their opening games, and that could continue tonight if they play conservatively and Bayonne look to start with a bang. Toulouse as usual have the bench to win it in the second half if they’re behind. As a saver, the Bayonne ht/ft is 4/1 in sportingbet and betfred and if you disagree with the above and believe Toulouse are still in the doldrums, then this is excellent value. It’s as low as 5/2 in ladbrokes.

Result – Toulouse 35-6. Bayonne scared out of their wits from first to last and allow Toulouse walk all over them. Big problems for them this year.

I’ve had a long look at the rest of the weekend’s TOP 14 rugby and to be honest nothing really stands out. The handicap in the Clermont game is high but there’s bad weather forecast so no real confidence there. Castres away at Toulon have a 13 point start and ordinarily you’d fancy them there but they’ve a bit of an experimental backrow in place that could go great or awful for them. Perpignan look the best of a bad bunch at +7 in bet365 away to an injury ravaged Stade Francais. Perpignan have their own injuries but were simply brilliant at home to Toulouse last week beating them 34-20, and could have won by much more. There’s nothing but home advantage in Stade Francais’ favour. The 3/1 available in bet365 for the win is quite tempting too.
You couldn’t back montauban or Agen either way the way they’re playing lately either.

That leaves us with Racing Metro best -6 in Bluesquare v Biarritz at 740 pm GMT. I’ve yet to make my mind up on this one but I think Racing could be good for a decent sized win here. racing were excellent last week away at Bayonne and could do some real damage at home. Head on over to the forum if you have any views yourself, and check back tomorrow for our picks on the Racing game.

Don’t forget to head over to our new Rugby Betting community to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest, and everyone’s views will help to build up a better picture on individual games. Lurkers unite, and contribute!

TOP14 Rugby Betting, Round three

TOP14 Rugby Betting is back this Friday night, and the abnormally hot weather has receeded to normality across the country with temperatures hanging around the 20 degree mark in most places.

Fixtures; All times GMT

Fri31/8 19:50 Grenoble v Stade Français
Sat01/9 14:00 Biarritz v Stade Toulousain
– 17:30 Castres v Aviron Bayonnais
– 17:30 Clermont v Usap
– 17:30 Montpellier v SU Agen
– 17:30 Racing Métro v Union Bordeaux-Bègles
– 19:40 Mont-de-Marsan v Rugby Club Toulonnais

Top14 Rugby Betting Grenoble v , Stade Francais 7.50pm GMT, Setanta Sports

Grenoble(-1 10/11 BlueSquare), (+2 10/11 Boylesports)

Grenoble come into this game having rested a good wedge of their best players for last week’s plucky display away to Castres. The previous week they defied expectations and went and beat Bordeaux Begles away from home so they’ve definitely got something going for them.

Stade Francais on the other hand lost last week in a disjointed display that continued their poor away form of last season. They’ve a few injuries this week, and some players still away at the Rugby Championship. They have a decent (albeit shallow) looking side out with Contepomi back at ten, but you couldn’t back them away from home, especially with this being Grenoble’s first home game since coming up from the Pro D2. It’ll be a hostile atmosphere, and Stade Francais wouldn’t be one of those sides that withstand pressure well.

Grenoble at best -1 10/11 in Bluesquare and skybet looks the bet – you couldn’t back the 1-12 because it’s Stade Francais, and though unlikely, you can’t relaly count on them not throwing in the towel.

Top14 Rugby Betting, Biarritz v Toulouse, Sat 14.00pm GMT, Setanta Sports

Biarritz(-1 10/11 BlueSquare), Toulouse (+3 10/11 Boylesports)

We took a second look at this when we first saw it, thinking they had got the handicaps the wrong way around. But they’ve stayed the same so Biarritz are indeed favourites.

It looks like a bit of an over reaction to both of Toulouse’s recent midlding wins. Yes, they were bad, but it was the start of the season and they have arguably the best squad in Europe. They won last week in the last quarter against Montois, who they no doubt expected to Marsan to lay down and die trembling in stade Toulousain, and were shocked at the fight they put up. Before that they won by a point at home to a good Castres side, coming from behind in the last ten minutes to win it. But they never looked out of control in that game and you always felt they would win.

Biarritz on the other hand had a bonus point win at home to that same Montois side in week one. They almost lost that bonus pooint and needed a try on the hooter in order to get the bonus point, having conceded a try to 13 men 5 minutes from full time (scoring three more tries than their opposition gets you a bonus in the TOP14 FYI). Last week, Biarritz beat an Agen side that were desperately bad the week before, and have very little creative spark. They’ve also lost Yachvilli two weeks ago.

The Toulouse +3 only in Boylesports, (and even if it moves into +2), is our firm pick here.

Top14 Rugby Betting Clermont v Montpellier, 17.30pm GMT, Setanta Sports, Canal +

Clermont (-14 10/11 Paddypower), Perpignan (+14 10/11 Paddypower)

Every bookie is in agreement on this game with all of them locked on +/- 14 each way. It seems a bit too generous to Perpignan considering they were unlucky in both of their opening games. They lost at home to a battle hardened Toulon side but were very close to getting a try in the last ten minutes. There were huge cries from Perpignan about the refereeing performance after that game and in our opinion they were slightly merited.

Follow that with last weekend’s game at Bordeaux that they lost by four points. They stopped playing for the thrid quarter of the game, and they had countless knock-ons when attacking throughout the 80 minutes. We had tipped them to stay inside the +3 handicap and they should have actually won the game – under-utilising alot of time in the Bordeaux 22 in the final quarter. An odd refereeing decision gave a penalty and a yellow card against them in the last 5 minutes while they were camped in the Bordeaux 22 on their 5 metre line. This yellow came despite the perpignan eight man scrum being up against the seven man Bordeaux scrum (down one from an earlier yellow). The point here is that Perpignan could understandably viewed as slightly unlucky to have two losses on the board instead of two wins.

They meet a Clermont side that lost away last week to an average Montpellier side. That game laid bare the current stretched nature of the Clermont squad. They have a huge number of players injured, particularly in the pack. Their back-line looks good, and it could definitely do some damage this weekend, but we’d be leaning towards Perpignan on the +14. It all depends on whether they believe in themselves, but there’s actually a real opportunity for them to get a win here if they play their cards right and someone takes up the leadership role on their side.

Perpignan +14 at 10/11 is our pick here, based on Perpignan’s bad luck and CLermont’s extremely stretched squad.

Edit: As VOnzipper was good enoguh to point out in the forum, Hook and Marty have been left out for Perpginan, and it’s unclear who will kick for them with Hook out and him kicking all of their points so far. Questionable whether Perpignan are such a good pick anymore, but if you’re already on them don’t fret too much- Clermont are bringing rusty players back into the rotation and are still down alot to injury.

We’re gong to leave the other games alone as nothing appeals on the handicaps. Montpellier play a bad Agen side, but they’re average enough themselves so you wouldn’t know which way the 14 point handicap would go. Racing Metro at home couldn’t be counted on to beat a 14 point handicap against a Bordeaux side that could turn up after losing at home to Grenoble in round one. No handicap bets on these for us, but we’ll find something to bet on in the Betting Forum no doubt.

We’ll take a look at the Saturday night game of Montois at home to Toulon when we see what kind of team they both look like putting out.

Don’t forget to head over to our new Rugby Betting community to join the discussion and contribute. All are welcome, you can choose your own team/country crest, and everyone’s views will help to build up a good picture on individual games.

TOP14 Rugby Betting Preview

TOP14 Rugby Betting Preview week 2, 2012

There’s a few odd looking handicaps this weekend and i’m convinced the bookies stat models are a fair bit off. No crazy money going down, but there’s a bit of opportunity here. All times GMT.

TOP14 rugby – Bordeaux v Perpignan, 750pm Friday 24 August

Weather 27 C, no rain

Bordeaux lost by a point last week at home to TOP14 new boys Grenoble, in a horrendous start to their season. They’ve made a couple of changes for this week, taking out a couple of fijians as a reaction, and moving a few others around. Based on the one game, the form isn’t great. But it’s one game. Contrast with Perpignan who, despite losing played very well and could have won had things gone their way. They have a new galaxy of stars, and should be well able to put some width on the ball which has been their stated intention this week in local media. In the Toulon game’s aftermath, they had a valid claim that Armitage was penalised seven or eight times for slowing the ball along with others, and yet there was no yellow card shown. They put on a serious show in the second half and came close a number of times to breaking through a determined Toulon defence with big Henry Tuilagi particularly prominent after coming on for the final 20 minutes. After last week’s loss, they know they have to get back on track and the handicap looks generous to Perpignan who are playing away to a side that just lost at home to Grenoble, and who were 17 points down in the first half.
Betting Pick; Perpignan +3 10/11 Bet365

TOP14 rugby – Racing Metro v Toulon, 2pm Saturday 25 August

Weather; 25 C, possible rain

As per early in the week, (bottom of this betting review post) we’re on Toulon already since Monday. Their price is contracting across the board for a straight win, and the Racing Metro -4 handicap still looks like an over reaction to Racing’s away win in Agen. That game had 5 or 6 yellow cards, and Agen ran out of steam and ideas in the last quarter. Not to take from Racing’s win, but this is eminently winnable for last year’s TOP14 rugby finalists Toulon. There’s possible bad weather forecast too, which will fall right into the hands of the big Toulon pack and Johnny Wilkinson’s boot. Handicap looks too generous to Toulon.
Betting Pick; Toulon +4 bet365, paddypower

TOP14 rugby – Bayonne v Stade Francais, 5:30pm Saturday 25 August

Probably one to swerve this – Stade were rotten away from home last season, and yet looked good last week at home against an unmotivated looking Montpellier side. Bayonne lost by seven to Clermont, and played reasonably well so should probably be given slight favouritism to beat the handicap of -5/6. But we probably won’t be touching this one.

TOP14 rugby – Castres v Grenoble, 5:30pm Saturday 25 August

Another one to swerve for us with the handicap up around -16 across the board for Castres. Castres were excellent last week against Toulouse, but Grenoble will be full of confidence after an unexpected away last week in their first game of the season. Castres will be after a try bonus (three tries scored more than your opponent in the TOP14), but until we see more of Grenoble and Castres, best to give this one a miss probably

TOP14 rugby – Montpellier v Clermont, 5:30pm Saturday 25 August

Weather 26 C, Possible thunderstorms

As with Toulon above, we’ve been on Clermont since early in the week (bottom of this rugby betting review post). Montpellier are still missing their Argentinians and Gorgodze, and they’re coming up against an already determined looking Clermont side (if last week was anything to go by).

The +4 has indeed disappeared in Paddypower as predicted and is into +3 everywhere, except stanjames where you can still get the +4 at 10/11.

The 7/4 straight Clermont win is still available only in Sportingbet (great value when the 1-12 winning margin is 2/1 biggest in bet365). Lastly, I wouldn’t put anyone off the the draw at biggest 20/1 in skybet– there’s still a no deposit free bet there too if you fancy a go at the draw for small money.
Betting Pick; Clermont +4 stanjames

TOP14 rugby – Toulouse v Montde Marsan, 5:30pm Saturday 25 August

Weather 22 C, decent chance of rain

The best handicap you can get for this game is Toulouse -26 with skybet at 10/11. This is likely one to swerve for us, no matter how tempting it is to back Toulouse to hammer them. When you look at the Toulouse lineup, and the fact that they’re at home, everything points to them beating the cap and putting up a big score. The Marsan management also said before last week’s game that they were taking it easy enough for the first two games. But at the same time, Toulouse were a bit lazy last week only winning by a point. Are Castres 25 points better than this Marsan side? I’m not so sure. Also, Toulouse had a habit of just doing enough last season, and frequently left handicaps unbeaten when they should have made mincemeat of them. Bottom line is that we couldn’t recommend either side on the handicap. If we had to bet, we’d take Toulouse purely because they’ll be after a bonus point, and Beauxis will also kick most of his goals to maybe take it over the -26 in skybet.

TOP14 rugby – Agen v Biarritz, 7:45 pm Saturday 25 August

Agen should win this for one main reason- Biarritz are missing Yachvilli. BIarritz may have put 35 points on MDeMarsan last week, but it took two yellow cards for them to be able to get the bonus point, and they almost threw it away at the end when Marsan got a late try. But for a last minute try in the corner Biaritz would have been gutted. Agen, at home here, were dire in defeat on Saturday. They looked unfit towards the end, and devoid of ideas – they lost a few players to Bayonne this season and it showed last week. They badly need to win this week, but you couldn’t have any confidence in in either team here, so a watching brief is recommended.

Top 14 bet summary
Betting Pick; Perpignan +3 10/11 Bet365
Betting Pick; Toulon +4 bet365, paddypower
Betting Pick; Clermont +4 stanjames

TOP14 Rugby betting opening weekend

TOP14 Rugby

This is the first weekend of TOP14 for the new season, and we should probably be a bit wary of jumping right in. It’ll be useful to see some form develop of course, but one thing we can always be certain of for French rugby teams, is the importance of home games.
So rather than try to guess what kind of teams might show up, we’ve instead taken a statistical view of the opening Top 14 weekend, to see if there’s any opportunities to be had. So looking back at the last three season’s opening weekends- (Home wins in bold)

In the 2009/2010 TOP14 rugby season, we had a mixed affair, but there were no real shocks. You would have expected Toulouse, Racing Metro and Clermont to win away against very weak teams, so two home wins, a draw and Castres beat a weakened Biarritz squad.

13:30 Albi – Racing-Metro 92 13:19
13:30 Biarritz Olympique – Castres Olympique 12:24
13:30 CA Brive – Montpellier Hérault RC 30:9
13:30 CS Bourgoin-Jallieu – Clermont 28:37
13:30 RC Toulonnais – Stade Francais Paris 22:22
13:30 US Montauban – Stade Toulousain 16:17 3.21
13:30 USA Perpignan – Aviron Bayonnais 28:20

In the 2010/2011 TOP 14 rugby season, we had five home teams winning on opening weekend, with Brive once again losing (could have seen that one coming) and with Bayonne upsetting a Toulon side who were prone to taking their eye off the ball when playing weaker teams all throughout last season.

19:45 La Rochelle – Castres Olympique 22:17
20:00 USA Perpignan – Clermont 21:13
18:00 Biarritz Olympique – Montpellier 30:22
18:00 CA Brive – Racing-Metro 92 18:23
18:00 RC Toulonnais – Aviron Bayonnais 22:26
18:00 Stade Francais Paris – CS Bourgoin 43:12
17:45 Stade Toulousain – Agen 44:24

So looking back to last season’s opening weekend (2011/2012 Top 14 rugby season), you had 6 of the seven home teams winning, with the seventh home team, Brive, only losing by a point to Agen who had a good season, tailing off towards the end.

16:00 RC Toulonnais – Biarritz Olympique 30:5
19:00 CA Brive – Agen 19:20
19:00 Clermont – Lyon 22:13
19:00 Racing-Metro 92 – Montpellier 30:22
19:00 Stade Francais Paris – Bordeaux Begles 41:20
19:00 USA Perpignan – Castres Olympique 25:6
17:45 Aviron Bayonnais – Stade Toulousain 18:13

So what can we infer from all of this from a rugby betting perspective? Well, of the 21 opening games in the last three seasons, there has been one draw, 13 home wins (61%), and 7 away wins. And of those away wins, only two (9%) we’d argue, were slightly unexpected.

So this weekend we’re going to ignore handicap betting and just go for a straight win accumulator, with maybe some small margin bets on the side; as mentioned above, we’ve no real form to look at, simply team sheets, and we don’t know what state they’re in on the whole.So the idea here is to try to dodge the possible shocks, and only weigh in behind the favourites, with a heavy weighting towards home advantage .Lets look at this weekend’s fixtures,

All times GMT

17/08 20:00 Stade Toulousain v Castres

Toulouse at home, best price 1/6, is the short priced banker ladbrokes
With the Handicap at -10 and -11, I’d stay well away- Toulouse have alot of injuries, and Castres have a few. I can see this being a 1-12 win for Toulouse, with both teams rusty, and home advantage doing it for Toulouse. Best price for 1-12 7/4 ladbrokes

18/08 18:00 Aviron Bayonnais v ASM Clermont

This has been moved from early afternoon to 6pm, possibly due to the serious heat in France at the moment. If the above results have taught us anything, it’s to swerve this match. Bayonne have beaten two big teams on the opening weekend in the last few years, and they’re at home here. if you must have a bet, the biggest +3 on Bayonne at Betfred is the one, or stretching that, the 1-12 bayonne winning margin at 9/5 in paddypower. They won’t beat Clermont by much more than that if they win.

– 17:30 SU Agen v Racing Métro 92

Agen tailed off lsat season, and have lost a few senior players, but they’re usually strong at home. Coupled with the fact that both sides have a fair few absentees, we’re sticking Agen in the accumulator -3/5 in bwin, 4/7 in paddypower

– 17:30 Biarritz Olympique v Mont-de-Marsan

The coach of MDM has said he’s pretty much taking it easy for the first two games. It’s tempting to jump on the handicap here for Biarritz (best -13 in betvictor), but the straight win makes it into the accumulator, best 1/12 in betfred. If you want something a bit bigger, then the Biarritz winning margin 13+ will appeal if we can see it anywhere around evens. The only bookmaker out at the minute is bet365 at 8/11.

– 17:30 Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Grenoble

The team that came up from winning the Pro D2(Grenoble) against the team that confounded expectations last season by playing well and staying up(Bordeaux Begles). Home win again, but nothing else. Into the accululator it goes – BB will want to show last season wasn’t a fluke, and that they now have recent experience of the TOP14.A very big game for BB then, and one they will very much want to win. Best price 1/4 in Betfred

– 17:30 Stade Français v Montpellier

Montpellier with alot of injuries, So Stade at home the pick again for sure. 2/7 in betfred.

– 19:40 USAP v Toulonnais

This one will be keenly watched, with Perpignan having bought alot of new players, and Toulon having culled alot of their bloated squad. I have to think this will be one of the away wins this week though for last year’s finalists Toulon (who could well have won it had Benjamin Lapeyre been able to hold that pass above his head with 5 minutes to go on the Toulouse line…). Toulon won’t be making the home accumulator obviously, but the +3 available in bet365 and williamhill look good for a single bet.

So, the stated aim here is to see if we can get a long running accumulator out of French rugby’s home team bias. So there’s two options – the conservative (one to rollover next week), and the regular home accumulator, which will be bigger priced.

Conservative (slightly) home wins acca- Biarritz, Toulouse, Stade Francais, Bordeaux begles, (comes out to evens in Betfred)

Regular home wins acca – Toulouse, Stade Francais, Bordeaux begles, Agen (comes out to 21/10 in Betfred)

To reiterate- this is the opening weekend, so none of these accumulators should have the rent money on them!

Best of luck.