The Pro14 (known as Guinness Pro14 due to sponsorship reasons) is one of the three major European rugby leagues in Europe (besides the French Top 14 and English Premiership). The league involves 14 teams (hence the name) from Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and South Africa, and has a great fan base. The most successful teams from the Pro14 proceed to the European Rugby Champions Cup, the top-tier competition for teams whose countries compete in the Six Nations Championship.
Tracing the roots of Pro14 takes us back to 1999 and the formation of the Welsh-Scottish League (known as the Celtic league). The Celtic league grew in popularity and size each year, adding teams from other countries and constantly expanding. With the league expanding to 12 teams before the 2010-11 season it was renamed to Pro12, and with the addition of two teams for the 2017-18 season, it was renamed to Pro14. At the moment, it is sponsored by Guinness, a brand of the highly successful Irish drink producer Diageo.
The Pro14 is played from September to May. The teams are separated in two conferences by 7, with the league using a playoffs format and a Grand Final to determine the champion.
The 2018-19 season will start on August 31, 2018, and is the 18th season of the Pro14. It features 14 teams, with Irish club Leinster the defending champion. Leinster is also the most dominant team in the league, with 5 titles behind their name, most of them coming after 2010. The Irish team has established unmatched dominance in recent years, overtaking the Scarlets as the team with the most titles.
It’s a new season, however, and Leinster surely won’t have it easy. Everyone will be looking to defeat the Irish team in every game. Complacency might be an issue for the champions as well, meaning that we should have an exciting season on our hands.
Can Leinster Repeat Last Year’s Success?
As the most successful club in the league and one of the most dominant in recent years, Leinster is the bookie and fan-favourite to win the title this year as well. The four-time European champion has Jonny Sexton in their squad and is mightier than ever, coming off a season where they won the double (Pro14 and the European Cup).
Due to this fact, Leinster is the title favourite for the 2018-19 Grand Final once more, with most major online bookies backing them up. Leinster is the favourite at Energy Bet (27/20), Mansion Bet (7/5), LV Bet (27/20), Sport Nation (7/5), leaving the other teams in the dust.
The great news for punters is that these odds are not bad at all. Sure, they won’t quadruple your investment, but they will more than double your stake. That’s more than enough for most punters, although if you like to risk things a bit more, you’re better off with the other teams on the list.
Can the Scarlets Retake the Throne?
The Scarlets were champions in the 2016-17 season and entered last season as title holders. They dominated the league once again and reached the finals as favourites, only to be defeated by Leinster. The Scarlets’ players were disappointed by missing out on the opportunity of back-to-back titles and will use that as fuel to get revenge over the Irish team this season.
Bookies aren’t really sure about the Scarlets’ chances, but they’re sure they are second to none on the list. The Scarlets stand at 4/1 at Energy Bet and LV Bet, 9/2 at Mansion Bet and Sport Nation. Much more enticing than Leinster, right? This only shows how big a favourite the Irish team is and how smaller the chances of the other teams are.
Still, Scarlets’ odds will definitely excite many punters. At 4/1 and 9/2, you’ll get a nice payout if the Welsh team brings the title home, and they do have the quality to make that happen. If you’re often betting on the underdog, the Llanelli Scarlets are the perfect choice when it comes to the Pro14 Grand Final.
Glasgow and Munster
Glasgow and Munster’s chances for the upcoming 18-19 Pro14 Grand Final shouldn’t be underestimated. Both teams are breathing down the neck of second favourite Scarlets, and considering their recent track record, it’d be foolish to write them off.
Munster is a 3-time Pro14 champion (last title in 2010-11) and is always among the top teams in the competition. They were narrowly defeated by Leinster last year – if they had Lady Luck on their side, they could have easily reached the final. Munster is always a tough opponent no one likes to face, especially in the knock-out stages.
With only one title behind their name, the Glasgow Warriors aren’t a household name like Leinster or the Scarlets, but they’re pretty thick-skinned. Their only title came in 2014-15, so not too long ago. They were the best team in the league during the regular season and reached the semi-finals where the Scarlets proved too big a match. Still, the Warriors are pretty hard to beat and will never surrender no matter the odds.
Both teams are being given equal chances for the 18-19 Pro14 Grand Final. They stand at 5/1 at LV Bet, Energy Bet, Mansion Bet, Sport Nation. Bookies can’t separate them as they’re not better than Leinster or the Scarlets but are much better than the rest of the competition. At 5/1, their odds are even more attractive for punters than second favourite Llanelli Scarlets and will bring you exactly 6 times your stake, so if you think any of the teams stand a chance next year, back them up with a reasonable bet.
Any Other Challengers?
After Glasgow and Munster, the odds take a huge dip. Take the Ospreys for example – the 4-time Pro14 champion is being given odds of 18/1, 20/1 at LV Bet and Energy Bet, and 22/1 at Mansion Bet and Sport Nation. The situation is similar with the Cardiff Blues and Ulster, which means that bookies are almost sure that no one will win the 2018-19 Grand Final other than the first 4 favourites.
If you’re feeling lucky, however, we recommend placing a small bet on some of these huge underdogs. You can never tell how things will go in sports, and if some of these teams win the title, you will be looking at quite a nice payout.