Tom English ( the chief sports writer for BBC Scotland, asked the question after the decision made by the 6 Nations (6N) committee to in the use of Bonus Points…

Tom English ( the chief sports writer for BBC Scotland, asked the question after the decision made by the 6 Nations (6N) committee to in the use of Bonus Points (BPs) to decide the winner of the Championship, whether it was a ‘gimmick or overdue’.

I am a traditionalist when it comes to the 6 nations. I believe it is the greatest rugby tournament in the world, even better than the Rugby World Cup, and should not have been touched. By introducing the BP, the 6N fall into line with many competitions and leagues within Rugby Union. They are adopting the most commonly used system with a win increasing to 4 points and a draw to 2 points. The awarding of bonus points are for scoring four or more tries in a game, and also for losing by less than seven points. With four points being awarded for a win, a team could lose 20-21 and get two points to the winners four. Alternatively, a team could win 24-15 and gain five points to the oppositions zero.

While I agree this is a positive for many competitions, using it in the 6N would have its flaws. One of my concerns with this format was you could have the possibility that a team could win all their matches (Grand Slam), but still finish in second place if they didn’t achieve as many BPs. The 6N have thought have this and added an additional 3 points for a team that wins the Grand Slam. Which I feel is very artificial. A further flaw as I see it is that the 6N, unlike other competitions it is not home and away, and there is not an even split of home and away games each year. Scotland have only won the Grand Slam three times and each of those when they played England and France at home. Scotland have only beaten France in Paris twice since 1969, one of them in 1999 when they last won the championship, and haven’t won at Twickenham since 1983. This would severely reduce Scotland’s chance to win a 6N, or even get a high place finish.

A final concern that I have is that all games should be played in the same environment. If it is absolutely howling a gale and pouring it down in Cardiff, they can close the roof. This is not possible at any other arena. This can potentially have an adverse effect on tries scored as the conditions would be inconsistent, with Wales being the beneficiaries more often. This may seem a bit picky, but during the RWC in New Zealand, England played under the roof in Dunedin 3 times, while Scotland and Argentina didn’t, and I recall the Scotland v Georgia game being played in typical Scottish weather as they scraped through 15-6 with all points coming from the boot. The conditions were very bad and wasn’t conducive to running rugby.

If they were to tinker and bring in bonus points, I would follow the system that is used in Super Rugby, with try bonus points only being awarded to winning teams, who have scored four or more tries, and three more than the opposition. This then allows the opposition to influence the points achieved by the opposition. A team may be out of the game and but having scored a try, could prevent the opposition getting a BP. It would also make the winning team, who may have four tries, keep pushing as if the opposition score a couple they would lose their BP.

All in all, I disagree with it, but I will finish where I started, quoting Tom English,

“There is no harm in tinkering. Experimentation is to be applauded, just as long as there’s an open mind and that if bonus points are not seen to be working then they’re put in the bin and the Six Nations is restored to its old, flawed, but thoroughly loveable self”

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