We’ve heard all the arguments as to why bonus points are a bad idea for the Six Nations, but now is the time to consider the other side of the argument.
First of all, let’s do away with this nonsense about why the Six Nations shouldn’t introduce a bonus points system. The argument goes that the introduction of a bonus point system would mean that a team could claim the Six Nations title despite winning less games than the team coming second.
This situation would occur when a team wins four of their five games with a try scoring bonus point, and claims a losing bonus point in their loss to the team that wins all five games but fails to secure a bonus point in any of their five games. Before we get on to the arguments for bonus points, it is first important to consider just how likely this series of events is.
To put this into context, there was a clear correlation between scoring tries and winning games during the most recent World Cup. The four semi-finalists (all from the Southern Hemisphere) on average accumulated 50 per cent more tries than penalty goals. In contrast, teams from the Northern Hemisphere accumulated 50 per cent more penalty goals than tries.
Although not conclusive, it provides fairly compelling evidence that scoring tries equates to winning games. Although this does not entirely nullify the concerns of some fans, it should go someway to abating their concerns about teams winning the tournament whilst winning less games than other teams.
More importantly however, is not only making Northern Hemisphere teams more competitive, but also improving rugby as a spectacle. You only have to look at the final day of action in last years Six Nations to see just how exciting the tournament can be when teams are chasing tries.
A bonus system would ensure there was an incentive for both sides to prioritise tries over penalties as the winning side focus on securing a try securing bonus point, whilst the trailing team have the opportunity to claim a losing bonus point by coming within seven points of their opponents.
The Rugby World Cup for example has had no problem employing a bonus point system in the pool stages despite teams playing one less game than in the Six Nations. There still remains the risk of teams topping the table whilst winning less games than other opponents, however there is very little dissent from the fans as it hasn’t been an issue.
For me, a bonus point system provides an incentive for teams to play positive rugby which is good for both fans and players, whilst the only viable argument against seems to be based on a farfetched scenario that seems highly unlikely.