Close sidebar

Analysis: How Much Would Bonus Points Actually Impact The Six Nations?

After the final weekend of the 2015 RBS Six Nations, pundits and fans alike were crying out for bonus points to be included within the tournament. The discussion came around because the top three teams were tied on points and knew the winner would be dictated by points difference, providing all three teams won.

The outcome was an amazing climax to the final weekend of the tournament where there were a total of 221 points scored in round 5, in comparison to 89, 93, 102, 106 in respective rounds 1 through 4. In fact, there was more than double the amount of points scored in the final round compared to the highest scoring round prior, suggesting that adding that extra incentive (i.e. bonus points) would make the rugby on display more entertaining as teams look for tries rather than penalties.

This made me curious to see what kind of effect a bonus point structure could have had on previous tournaments, so I carried out some initial research. I added bonus points for scoring four tries or more and/or losing by 7 points or less to previous tournament results and left the current scoring system untouched: 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss.

France v England - RBS Six Nations

The tables below show the outcomes, where Pos (BP) equals the position a team would have finished, T (BP) equals a bonus point awarded for four or more tries, L (BP) equals a bonus point awarded for losing by seven points or less and PTS (BP) equals the total points a team finished with. 

_____

 RBS 6 Nations 2010 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 1 Fra 5 5 0 0 135 69 66 13 6 1 0 10 11
2 3 Ire 5 3 0 2 106 95 11 11 6 0 1 6 7
3 2 Eng 5 2 1 2 88 76 12 6 5 0 2 5 7
4 4 Wal 5 2 0 3 113 117 -4 10 11 0 1 4 5
5 5 Sco 5 1 1 3 83 100 -17 3 8 0 2 3 5
6 6 Ita 5 1 0 4 69 137 -68 5 12 0 1 2 3

_____

RBS 6 Nations 2011 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 1 Eng 5 4 0 1 132 81 51 13 5 1 0 8 9
2 2 Fra 5 3 0 2 117 91 26 10 8 1 1 6 8
3 3 Ire 5 3 0 2 93 81 12 10 4 0 2 6 8
4 4 Wal 5 3 0 2 95 89 6 6 8 0 1 6 7
5 5 Sco 5 1 0 4 82 109 -27 6 11 0 2 2 4
6 6 Ita 5 1 0 4 70 138 -68 6 15 0 1 2 3

_____ 

RBS 6 Nations 2012 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 1 Wal 5 5 0 0 109 58 51 10 3 0 0 10 10
2 2 Eng 5 4 0 1 98 71 27 7 4 0 1 8 9
3 3 Ire 5 2 1 2 121 94 27 13 8 2 1 5 8
4 4 Fra 5 2 1 2 101 86 15 8 8 1 2 5 8
5 6 Ita 5 1 0 4 53 121 -68 4 12 0 1 2 3
6 5 Sco 5 0 0 5 56 108 -52 4 11 0 3 0 3

_____ 

RBS 6 Nations 2013 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 2 Wal 5 4 0 1 122 66 56 9 3 0 0 8 8
2 1 Eng 5 4 0 1 94 78 16 5 6 1 0 8 9
3 3 Sco 5 2 0 3 98 107 -9 7 9 1 1 4 6
4 5 Ita 5 2 0 3 75 111 -36 5 8 0 1 4 5
5 4 Ire 5 1 1 3 72 81 -9 5 5 0 3 3 6
6 6 Fra 5 1 1 3 73 91 -18 6 6 0 1 3 4

_____

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Eddie Jones, head coach of England smiles after the RBS Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 12, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

RBS 6 Nations 2014 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 1 Ire 5 4 0 1 132 49 83 16 4 1 1 8 10
2 2 Eng 5 4 0 1 138 65 73 14 5 1 1 8 10
3 3 Wal 5 3 0 2 122 79 43 11 6 1 0 6 7
4 4 Fra 5 3 0 2 101 100 1 9 10 0 1 6 7
5 5 Sco 5 1 0 4 47 138 -91 4 15 0 1 2 3
6 6 Ita 5 0 0 5 63 172 -109 7 21 0 1 0 1

_____ 

RBS 6 Nations 2015 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 1 Ire 5 4 0 1 119 56 63 8 3 1 1 8 10
2 2 Eng 5 4 0 1 157 100 57 18 11 2

 

0 8 10
3 3   Wal 5 4 0 1 146 93 53 13 8 1 1 8 10
4 4 Fra 5 2 0 3 103 101 2 9 9 1 2 4 7
5 6 Ita 5 1 0 4 62 182 -120 8 19 0 0 2 2
6 5 Sco 5 0 0 5 73 128 -55 6 12 0 3 0 3

_____

RBS 6 Nations 2016 Table

Pos Pos (BP) Team Played W D L PF PA Diff TF TA T (BP) L (BP) PTS PTS (BP)
1 1 Eng 5 5 0 0 132 70 62 13 4 1 0 10 11
2 2 Wal 5 3 1 1 150 88 62 17 7 1 1 7 9
3 3 Ire 5 2 1 2 128 87 41 15 9 2 1 5 8
4 4 Sco 5 2 0 3 122 115 7 11 13 0 2 4 6
5 5 Fra 5 2 0 3 82 109 -27 7 9 0 0 4 4
6 6 Ita 5 0 0 5 79 224 -145 8 29 0 1 0 1

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 19: CJ Stander of Ireland dives over a maul to score his team's opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on March 19, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Team By Team Analysis

England

Year Actual Finish Bonus Point Finish
2010 3 2
2011 1 1
2012 2 2
2013 2 1
2014 2 2
2015 2 2
2016 1 1

On two occasions (2010 and 2013), bonus points would have done England a favour in terms of where they placed in the table, though they would never have finished below their actual final positions either. This would strengthen the argument for the inclusion of bonus points amongst English fans.

_____

Wales

Year Actual Finish Bonus Point Finish
2010 4 4
2011 4 4
2012 1 1
2013 1 2
2014 3 3
2015 3 3
2016 2 2

Again, we see a similar outcome with Wales. A bonus point system rarely affected the outcome of their finish in the table. On one occasion it went against them, Wales finishing second instead of first even though they had scored the highest number of tries and had the greatest points difference. This is why the current scoring system would need to be addressed alongside any introduction of bonus points.

_____

Ireland

Year Actual Finish Bonus Point Finish
2010 2 3
2011 3 3
2012 3 3
2013 5 4
2014 1 1
2015 1 1
2016 3 3

Ireland had bonus points affect them once positively – in 2013 moving up from 5th to 4th – and once negatively – in 2010 finishing in 3rd instead of runners up. Once again, we can see that adding a bonus points system doesn’t significantly affect the table but does provide that vital added incentive.

_____

Ireland v Scotland - RBS Six Nations

Scotland

Year Actual Finish Bonus Point Finish
2010 5 5
2011 5 5
2012 6 5
2013 3 3
2014 5 5
2015 6 5
2016 4 4

Scotland, along with England, would have been one of the teams to benefit most from the inclusion of bonus points, on two occasions finishing higher in the table. This was due to losing bonus points though, when Scotland managed to stay within seven points of their victors. Interestingly, a bonus point structure would have seen the Scots avoid the so-called ‘wooden spoon’ since 2010.

_____

 France

Year Actual Finish Bonus Point Finish
2010 1 1
2011 2 2
2012 4 4
2013 6 6
2014 4 4
2015 4 4
2016 5 5

Yet again the would-be finishing position didn’t affect the final outcome with France. What we can see is the steady decline of French rugby over the last 4 years, which is a whole other discussion.

_____

Italy

Year Actual Finish Bonus Point Finish
2010 6 6
2011 6 6
2012 5 6
2013 4 5
2014 6 6
2015 5 6
2016 6 6

Italy, meanwhile, would have been the team to suffer the most by the introduction of bonus points, though an alteration of the scoring system might help reduce that impact. The question that springs to mind however, is whether or not the Italians play entertaining rugby. Not on any single occasion have they scored four tries in a Six Nations game and when they win, it’s usually within seven points – awarding the losing team a bonus point in the process. Some may argue that close games are more entertaining. The fact is though that when teams play Italy, most fans are expecting a win – which brings up the whole relegation/promotion debate once again.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 19: Captain Dan Lydiate of Wales in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Italy at the Principality Stadium on March 19, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

So, as you can see, bonus points would rarely change the eventual outcome of a tournament. The top of the table tends to remain the same with the bottom three switching positions in the Six Nations, which I believe this is due to the decline of Italy, Scotland and France in past years. When we look back to 2013 though, we can see the table changed considerably with the inclusion of bonus points; this was due to the teams not being as far apart and maybe the odd bit of luck.

England dominated and were deserving champions of this year’s competition but the shift in the table between 2nd and 5th was a real battle. There was essentially nothing to play for in the final weekend as England had already been declared champions and Italy were on course for the wooden spoon. With the inclusion of bonus points, this could have been very different as a bonus point win for Wales could have seen them lifting the trophy – providing England didn’t secure a win themselves.

The inclusion of bonus points would, ultimately, be a good thing as it encourages teams to score tries rather than kick penalties and also brings more than just the game at hand to the table. At present teams are only concerned with winning the game; they do not care how, a win is a win – and, in my opinion, this promotes boring rugby. With the inclusion of a bonus points structure, a win would still be a win, but there would be extra incentives – the winning team would not only want to gain a bonus point, they would work hard to avoid giving one to the losing side, especially if they are sitting in first and second or at the other end of the table.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Mike Brown of England celebrates with teammate Jack Nowell of England after scoring his team's second try during the RBS Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on February 27, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

In thinking about bonus points however, the current scoring system would probably need to change as well. Otherwise, a team that loses could still gain two points. For example, Wales could beat England 21 – 20 where England score four tries to Wales’ three, meaning Wales get two points for the win while England would also get two points (1 bonus point for four tries and another for losing within seven points or less).

I’d propose something similar to the Aviva Premiership scoring system (4 Points for a win, 2 for a draw and 0 for a loss) as we’d always see a winning team with more points in the table. Some may argue this would still keep the tables with the same outcome. Based on previous years, it probably would; however, the inclusion of bonus points would make games and the tournaments themselves more interesting and entertaining to watch.

The laws of the game are forever under evaluation and we usually see some sort of change to the rulebook each year. So let’s see some innovation applied to the scoring system; after all, we all want to see more entertaining rugby being played and this is a surefire way to encourage that. Dan Carter recently said he thinks there should be bonus points in the Six Nations – the guy is a rugby legend, so who can argue with him!

Andrew Richmond, Pundit Arena

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.

This website uses cookies in order to offer you the most relevant information. Please accept cookies for optimal performance.