Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Six Nations to Introduce Bonus Points

The Six Nations Council today announced the introduction of a bonus points system across the RBS 6 Nations, The Women’s Six Nations and the Under 20s Six Nations Championships.

In line with similar systems in use in many competitions, it is designed to encourage attacking play and rewards teams with a point for scoring 4 tries or more, and/or losing by less than 7 points.

While it might seem like Scotland (and Italy) would be targeted for bonus point wins by other teams, the way Vern Cotter has Scotland both scoring tries and either winning or losing by narrow margins should give fans hope for encouragement that the system will help Scotland, who play with a positive mindset.

There is one non-standard extra rule designed to avoid teams winning a Grand Slam but losing the Championships due to other teams scoring more tries: win all 5 of your matches and an extra 3 points are awarded.

This system will be implemented on a trial basis in all three Championships in 2017 and will be reviewed post Championships.

Competition points will be awarded in all matches on the following basis:

  1. The Union that wins the Match shall be awarded four Match Points or (if it scores four tries or more in the process) five Match Points.
  2. The Union that loses the Match shall be awarded no Match Points or (if it scores four tries or more in the process or loses by a margin of seven points or fewer) one Match Point or (if it scores four tries or more in the process and loses by a margin of seven points or fewer) two Match Points.
  3. Unions that draw a Match shall each be awarded two Match Points and any of them that scores four tries or more in the process shall be awarded a further one Match Point.
  4. A Union that wins all five of its Matches (a “Grand Slam”) shall be awarded a further three Match Points.

17 Responses

  1. Pleased with this, have long advocated. The one argument against was ‘winning the Grandslam, losing the Championship’ and the counter was always a ‘Grandslam bonus’. It’s really not rocket science.
    I’ve just quickly re-calculated the 2016 table and the order doesn’t change, though our 4th place sets us clearly ahead of France due to bonus point defeats to England and Wales:

    ENG 21 (10)
    WAL 16 (7)
    IRE 13 (5)
    SCO 10 (4)
    FRA 8 (4)
    ITA 1 (0)

    That looks to my mind a fairer reflection of how the sides performed.
    Our wins against Italy and France were both also with 3 tries in each so close to bonus-point wins (and the defeat against Ireland was a Pen away from a losing bonus-point, or a Try away from a losing bonus point together with a 4-try bonus point).

    1. Sure, but it is also perfectly possible for a team with more wins to finish ahead of a team with fewer. If Italy lost every game by less than 7 pts and we beat Italy but got no bonus points would you think it fair that we received the wooden spoon? Particularly if there is relegation in future??? BPs should only be used to separate teams level on points in my opinion, especially when a short league system is used. In last years European Challenge Cup, Edinburgh won more games than LI but LI qualified for the QFs based on BPs. So it does lead to ridiculous outcomes. In fact a team can still win a championship whilst winning fewer games than the runner up.

      1. In the scenario you paint I think I would find it fair, yes. If Italy have held the French, the Irish, the Welsh and English ALL to close defeats and then been beaten by us (presumably without us winning a bonus point) then fair play to them. Of course, if we had had a couple of narrow defeats then we would still finish above Italy. That sounds ok to me. Individual games can be won or lost by dodgy decisions. However, if Italy get 4 (or 5) losing bonus points across a Championship then I see no reason why that shouldn’t (in certain circumstances – i.e. us losing 4 badly and scraping past Italy) mean that they should finish above us on the balance of the tournament as a whole.

      2. A team can still win the championship winning fewer games, and that is exactly what happens currently with the various leagues – being top at the end of the season is no guarantee of being crowned Champs. Exciting though it can be it still rankles with me that a team who are 4th, and way out of it, can take the big prize in a domestic league.

  2. For the record, going back, we’d have had the following points:

    2015 – 3 (0)
    2014 – 5 (2)
    2013 – 10 (4)
    2012 – 3 (0)

    In both seasons of losing each game, 3 of the 5 were lost by 7 or fewer points.
    Makes you realise how we weren’t actually getting thumped even in those awful seasons.
    The other thing is how rare it is for us to get 4 or more tries. Just Italy in 2013 in there.

    Jumping to ’99 for obvious reasons:

    SCO 16 (6)
    ENG 13 (6)
    WAL 9 (4)
    FRAN 6 (2)
    IRE 5 (2)

    Clear-cut! Did we really manage 16 tries in 4 games? Fantastic.
    I could analyse further (I may, I’m that way inclined) but I suspect they’ll be a few cases as per ’99 with Ireland and France whereby a couple of sides would swap places at the foot of the table (or the middle).
    Don’t know whether Championships could be won or lost….

    1. I’ve checked the 8 years of 6N without a GrandSlam and we have two changes of Championship, in successive years:
      In 2013, Wales won the Championship but under the Bonus Point system England actually pip them by a point.
      In 2014 it went to Ireland, but England again would have won under BP.
      Amazingly, the 3-way final-day of 2015 doesn’t produce any changes as each of the 3 finish on the same points, so point difference is used to split them again.

      1. How did you work that out for 2014 WestCountry? I have been through every 6N and the only one I found with a change at the top is 2013, where England outscored Wales by a try bonus as you say.

        In 2014, both Ireland and England won 4 games, and they both secured a losing BP and try BP each, so (4×4) + (1×1) + (1×1) = 18 points each. Ireland still win the 6N on points diff and number of tries scored. Glad to put my hands up if I have got that wrong though.

        You are right about the tight results we have had, especially since 2010. Between 2000/03 we would have got 0 losing BP, then from 2004/09 we would have had 6, and from 2010-16 we would have had 14. If you look at points scored F/A you see a similar pattern.

        Our only other Try BP was against the Irish in 2003.

  3. I’m pleased with this news, although it will, I fear, cast Italy even further adrift from the rest of us.

    It might even affect Wales adversely, who’s star is on the wane it would seem (trying to suppress a wide grin as I type this)

    1. Italy and ourselves if the historical data is anything to go by:

      Scotland TBP for 2, against 18
      Italy TBP for 2, against 33

      Amazingly enough, or possibly not if you have watched Scotland and Italy in the 6N, 2 of our combined 4 BP’s came against each other.

      Then there is a big gap to the rest:
      Ireland for 17, against 7
      Wales for 11, against 6
      France for 14, against 6
      England for 26, against 2

      Now it may be that 2017 is the year it changes for Scotland, I hope it does, but the net effect will be to punish away teams by making it harder for them to win the 6N.

  4. I think this is a crackpot decision. When you break down the numbers you can see very clearly that the introduction of try bonus points massively favours the teams with 3 home fixtures. I’ve been through each 6N, and there is only one where the destination of the Championship changes hands – 2013, when Wales would lose out to England. This would be down to Wales scoring no bonus points, and England getting 1 (against us, funnily enough). This is despite Wales scoring 9 tries that year, and England only 5. Other than that, there are some adjustments in the minor places.

    What jumps out however is that TBP would be awarded to the Home side in 19.2% of games, whereas the Away side would only get one in 10.8% of games. Given that Home teams win 59.6% of games, this alteration would only make it more difficult for a team to play 3 Away fixtures the odds of them winning the 6N have now increased. This is an unfair advantage to those sides with a greater number of Home games, and makes the 6N look rather silly in my opinion. Of the sides with three home fixtures in 2017 who is most likely to benefit based on the last 16 years?

    England P39, W33, TBP scored 17, TBP conceded 1
    Scotland P39, W13, TBP scored 2, TBP conceded 7
    Italy P39, W9, TBP scored 0, TBP conceded 14

    If anyone wants the rest of the figures, just ask.

    Of far greater value would be:
    To reduce the amount of time fannying about setting scrums – more time with ball in play, more chance of tries
    To stop sides milking penalties from scrums – again, ball in play, more chance of tries
    Support officials to make the breakdown simpler – apply the Laws regarding being off your feet, playing opponent off the ball etc
    Reduce kicking for goal time to 30 seconds.

    1. Meant to add that losing BP’s also show how tough it is away from home. At home, you would expect to get a LBP 18% of the games you lost, and concede one in 17% of the games you win.

      However if you are away from home, you would be looking at a LBP in 16% of games, whereas if you won, the home side would be within 7 points in 20% of games.

      Again, this favours the sides with 3 home fixtures each year.

      1. Easy solution?….invite Georgia…3 home 3 away every year.

        3 Home is already a pretty good advantage regardless of bonus points…

      2. Exactly Alanyst – giving out bonus points merely exacerbates the advantage given to home sides already which already exists.

        I think the inclusion of Georgia has some merit as it would expand top tier rugby, make it 3 home & away, and give a rest week which can’t be a bad thing in a tournament as attritional as the 6N.

        One more idea to increase the running rugby – move the 6N back a month. Most sides now playing on hybrid pitches, so let’s get some better weather and get the most out if them.

  5. Anyone struggle to get tickets for Ireland or Wales games yesterday? Don’t fear, you can just go to Viagogo who the SRU assure us are their proud partners. With Bronze tickets available for the Wales game as cheap as £220 and Platinum at £374, I for one am delighted that this tie-in really does look after the fans.

    1. Yep – tried and failed. Our “partners” at Viagogo charged me £500 for two £90 tickets for the Wales game. It’s my Dad’s 80th and we’re travelling up from Scottish Surrey for the mtach. I’m sure the event will be worth it but I hope the SRU gets a big slice of that profit, so at least I think I’m putting something back into the Scottish game.

      1. Wow! That is a lot of money. I am (99%) doing Twickenham this season but had hoped for a home game too (may yet do Italy, but not ideal with back-to-back weeks). Instead, may actually do Paris now as no more expensive for me with flights/hotel and actually far easier to get tickets (widely available on FFR official site). If so, ironically I’ll be putting money into the English and French unions and not the SRU but I won’t be using ticket touts that is for sure.

  6. These Bonus Points won’t mean a thing in such a short competition. Especially as there is a biennial mismatch between home and away as has been mentioned by others. The only fair way is to make the 6N a competition over two years, as they have in the ENC. You would still have the main prizes every year (grand slam, wooden spoon, calcutta cup etc) but the competition table is reset every other year. This avoids the 3Home/2Away vs 2Home/3Away bias and allow Bonus Points to actually make a difference. It would allow also the admistrators/accountants/sponsors to better predict which match-ups at the end of the series would create the biggest buzz. They are obviously predicting us to be fighting against the Azzurri for the wooden spoon at the end of 2017 but what if we beat Ireland and then go to France with confidence?

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