With this year’s Six Nations now in full swing, we thought we’d look at how the controversial addition of the bonus points system would have affected the standings had it been in effect from 2000 (when Italy joined the competition).
The idea behind the bonus points system, which has been used in the Aviva Premiership since 2000/2001, is that it will encourage and reward try scoring and attacking play. The bonus points on offer promises to change the dynamic of the tournament, with teams now still capable of picking up points even in defeat. Four points will now be awarded for a straightforward win, rather than two, and teams will receive a bonus point if they score four or more tries during a match. This bonus point for four or more tries scored can be awarded to both winning and losing sides. A further bonus point will be on offer to a team in defeat if they lose by seven points or fewer. Finally, an additional three points will be awarded to a team if they win the Grand Slam, in order to avoid the pitfall of winning every match but losing the championship to a team with more bonus points.
Taking all this into consideration, we applied this new system to all Six Nations tournaments dating back to the introduction of Italy in 2000, to see the effect it could have had in previous years. Firstly, we look at the table from the 2015 Six Nations Championship, one of the most exciting events in recent history:
Now let’s take a look at the occasions where there would have been a shift in the overall standings:
Finally, we’ve added up all the bonus points that each of the six teams would have accumulated since 2000 (up to and including 2016 but not week one of 2017). This includes the three additional points that Grand Slam winners receive:
There are arguments for and against the inclusion of a bonus points system in the Six Nations, with its use in future years largely depending on the success of this year’s tournament, and whether it really will encourage bravery and more attacking play.
After the first weekend of action, Ireland and France both picked up a bonus point on account of their narrow losses to Scotland and England respectively, but will bonus points have an impact on the overall standings? Our analysis shows that there are just three occasions in the history of the Six Nations where bonus points would have resulted in a change in the final standings, although on two of those occasions, a different team would have been crowned champions.