The Guinness Pro14 League is one of the three major professional rugby leagues in Europe, with the French14 and English Premiership being the other two. The best teams from all three leagues go on to play in the pan-European championship European Rugby Champions Cup, an annual rugby union tournament for clubs that compete in the Six Nations Championship.
The Guinness Pro 14 league changed its name and format a few times since its creation. It originally started in 2001 as the Celtic League (featuring teams from Scotland and Wales), before adding clubs from Ireland later. The league expanded to 12 teams in 2010, adding two Italian teams. In 2011, it changed its name to Pro12 (reflecting on the number of teams), and with the addition of a further two South African teams in the 2017-2018 season, it changed its name to Pro14.
As the name suggests, the Guinness Pro14 features 14 teams coming from Scotland, Wales, South Africa, Italy, and Ireland. The league is played from September to May, ending with the Grand Final. The teams are split into two conferences – there are two Irish and Welsh teams in each, with another one from Italy, Scotland, and South Africa. The teams play between each other at home and away in the same conference and once against a team from the other conference. Additionally, each team will play an opposing team from the same country in a match that’s considered a derby. After the regular season, the top three teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, with the teams placed first going directly to the semi-final which they host.
The most successful team in the history of the Pro14 League is Leinster Rugby, the current champions who have won their fifth title last year and broken the record previously held by the Ospreys (4 titles). Leinster is the league’s most powerful team at the moment and is widely considered to be the favourite for next year’s title as well. The 18-19 Guinness Pro14 will feature the same teams as last year, with Leinster defending their double (Pro14 and European Cup), becoming only the sixth team in the history of rugby to do that and the first in Pro14.
Will Leinster Win A Record Sixth Title?
Leinster Rugby is the most successful Irish team in European competition and on domestic soil as well. They’ve won the Pro14 last year in spectacular fashion and have been even better in the European Rugby Champions Cup, finishing with 6 wins from 6 games. This was their first title in this competition since 2012 and their 4th in total, equalling Toulouse’s record.
With players such as Jonathan Sexton in the team, Leinster is a heavy favourite for next year’s Pro14 title. With the league starting in September, bookies have already begun offering outright winner odds, where Leinster dominates the table. They are being given 27/20 odds for the title at Ole777, Sport Pesa, Fun88, Bet East, and Energy Bet as well. The odds might seem unappealing to inexperienced punters but giving the Irish team these odds with such a long way to go until the season starts means they’re absolute favourites.
This coincides with the opinion of leading rugby experts who can’t see past the Irish team for next year’s title as well. Leinster is truly the team to beat and dethroning them surely won’t be easy.
Who Can Challenge Leinster?
The Llanelli Scarlets are a Welsh team with the biggest chances of ruining Leinster’s parade. Having featured in last year’s final, the Scarlets will undoubtedly look to repeat their run this year and hopefully stop a Leinster run.
With two titles behind their name (the most recent one coming in 16-17), the Scarlets are a difficult opponent no one wants to face, and this includes Leinster. They destroyed the Cheetahs in the quarter-finals last year and went to beat the Glasgow Warriors in the semi-finals as well, eventually getting to the final. Although Leinster is heavily tipped to win next season’s title by experts and bookies as well, the Scarlets shouldn’t be underestimated as they are surely relishing the shot at revenge over their Irish nemesis.
The Scarlets are given odds of 15/4 at Fun88, Ole777, Bet East, and Sport Pesa and 4/1 odds at Energy Bet. This means that although Leinster is the clear favourite, the Scarlets are the next favourite in line and they certainly boast the quality to beat the current champions. Furthermore, the Welsh team’s odds are certainly more attractive – if you place a bet on them, you will more than quadruple your investment, which is pretty nice if you ask us.
What About the Glasgow Warriors?
The Glasgow Warriors are one of the two professional Scottish teams in the Pro14 league and the only one to win a title in the competition (2012). The club finished first in Conference A last year, surprising everyone with a record of 15-1-5, which was better than Leinster’s. As leaders of Conference A, they automatically qualified for the semi-finals – although some experts have predicted them reaching the final encouraged by their regular season record, the Warriors were destroyed by the Scarlets with 13-28.
However, this doesn’t mean that Glasgow’s pride isn’t strong. They had an impressive season last year and will definitely be near the top this year as well. Bookies are giving the Warriors odds of 17/4 (Fun88, Ole777, Sport Pesa, and Bet East) and 5/1 (Energy Bet). These odds are quite enticing and worth giving a shot. If Leinster and the Scarlets have a bad run of form, you can bet that the Warriors will take their chances. They’re arguably the third best team in the league and may bring you a lot of money in return if they win the Pro14, so why not give them a try?
The Odds for The Other Teams
With Leinster, the Scarlets, and the Warriors being the top three favourites for the title, bookies aren’t giving the other teams great chances other than Munster. The Irish team is being given odds of 19/4 at Ole777, Fun88, Bet East, and Sport Pesa, and 5/1 at Energy Bet, same as the Warriors. This clearly shows that bookies expect them to cause trouble for the favourites and even consider them a dark horse. Nothing is really impossible, just as the Irish team’s motto says (“To be brave and faithful, nothing is impossible”).
Other than Munster, the other teams can be considered outsiders. Four-time Pro14 champions Ospreys are only featured on Energy Bet (20/1), while the Cardiff Blues are given odds of 17/1 at Ole777, Fun88, Bet East, and Sport Pesa and 20/1 at Energy Beat.
The teams with the lowest chances of winning the 18-19 Pro14 are Benetton Treviso with odds of 725/1 (Sport Pesa, Fun88, Ole777) and the Southern Kings, who are absolute outsiders with odds of 975/1 at the same bookmakers.