Having watched England run rampant against the Italians in the second round of the Six Nations, it got us questioning the bonus point system, or lack there of. Currently, a win earns a team 2 points, a draw, 1, and of course no points are gained from a loss. But could the Six Nations adopt the scoring system of most club competitions around the world?
The bonus point system would mean teams could earn an extra point for scoring 4 tries or more against an opposition team, regardless of whether they had won or lost. You could also gain another point for losing within a 7 point margin, so for example, if Team A scored 4 tries in a match which they lost 28-35 to Team B, they will still come away with 2 points. Would this system be technically viable I hear you ask? Well, let’s have a look at the options.
The current structure of points scoring means if a team win all 5 games, they will have a total score of 10 points, allowing no other team to finish above them. They will also be named Grand Slam champions in the process, with an impressive whitewash. Yet, let's imagine the bonus point method stated above was brought into practice, and a team had won 3 out of their 5 games, but earned at least one bonus point in every match, culminating in the said side having a grand total of 11 points at the end of the competition, which would identify that team becoming champions, despite the former team winning all 5 games. A strange logic, which some would argue might take the beauty out of the championship, and the title 'Grand Slam winners'.
Nonetheless, it would surely have to be accepted that having the chance of gaining a bonus point might open up the matches, and encourage teams to go out and play some free-flowing rugby. For the neutrals, and for most supporters, it is surely something which should be relished. Never again would we have to sit through dull affairs, watching teams play for penalties, and kick their way to victory. Something which, as a Scotsman, had become something I was becoming increasingly used to. I am also not afraid to admit, their are some neutral fixtures I often turn a blind-eye too, purely down to previous results and the style of rugby the team plays. Yet, seeing a side gain confidence from spreading it wide instead of the pointless punt, or running from deep instead of the old 'Garryowen', might just create an even better spectacle for all those involved.
There is no doubt that the team that wins all of their games should win the championship, despite another team gaining more bonus-points, so how could that be solved? There are ways around it. One lengthy extreme may be a play-off tie between the top two at the end of the championship at a pre-determined neutral ground, or another could be to try and drop the Grand Slam title, and reward teams with the championship for preparing to play entertaining rugby, even if they have lost. Or, a final way of structuring it would be to award teams just winning bonus points for scoring more than 4 tries. So, once again, an example would be, the Team A have won all 4 games, with no bonus points, so have a tally of 16 points, whilst the Team B have won all 4, but have gained a bonus point in every match, meaning they would have 20 points. When the two face each other, the team that is victorious would win the championship on the 'head-to-head' system. If this system had been implemented in 2013 and 2014, England would have run out winners on both occasions, instead of Wales and Ireland respectively. To make this a little easier to understand, we have created the 2013/14 alternative table below. Crystal clear? Fantastic!
In conclusion, it is obviously all hypothetical, and was purely an idea. The idea of a team setting out to win by scoring more tries excited us a touch, and perhaps it might be included in the future, but for the meantime, lets enjoy what we have in store for us in the final two weekends of this year’s edition. We would love to hear your ideas on possible introductions to the Six Nations, or perhaps constructive criticism on ours. Opinions are like... well, you know the rest.