Is it time for the Six Nations to introduce a bonus point system? 7 years ago

Is it time for the Six Nations to introduce a bonus point system?

How was it for you?

Ireland's encouraging finale to the Six Nations has added a very thin layer of gloss to the Championship but how about the fare on offer in general?


Matt Williams - a long-time critic of the style of play in the Six Nations - said on Second Captains this week that if the highlight of any tournament is England's back play then it is time to question the quality of that competition.

Even allowing for Williams' slightly unfair dismissal of the brilliance of Mike Brown, Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson, he does have a point.

Eddie Jones' Grand Slam winning gameplan revolved around Billy Vunipola smashing opponents and smashing over the gainline. Outside of the Saracens destroyer's impact, what are the abiding memories of the tournament?

RBS 6 Nations Championship Round 3, Twickenham Stadium, London, England 27/2/2016 England vs Ireland England's George Kruis and Maro Itoje with Jamie Heaslip of Ireland Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie


Johnny Sexton battling back against the slings, arrows and late hits? Scotland's broken field running? Maro Itoje's lineout brilliance? Italy's deterioration to punching bags? France's reliance on a Fijian Sevens player?

It was not a vintage Championship and one well-worn suggestion for improving the Northern Hemisphere's premier Test competition is the introduction of bonus points.

Williams is a long-time advocate of the Six Nations coming in line with every other major rugby tournament and on Wednesday Gordon D'Arcy joined the chorus in his Irish Times column.

The former Ireland and Leinster centre believes the introduction of bonus points for scoring four tries or more and keeping the losing deficit within seven points would not only keep the likes of Italy motivated to compete but encourage more ambitious, attacking rugby.


IRBS 6 Nations Championship Round 1, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland 7/2/2016 Ireland vs Wales UTV TV Gordon D'Arcy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

He goes so far as to suggest it would change the very structures underpinning the game in Europe.

"Introducing a bonus point system to the Six Nations would require a significant change in the Northern Hemisphere club fixtures and the Six Nations itself but it would prove of enormous value in closing the gap on the Southern Hemisphere.

"It would change the way every team approached the game. It would bring the Argentinian blueprint to this part of the world.

"Bonus points, especially in the case of Italy, would give clear reward for continuing to put the same effort into the Six Nations after one or two defeats."


The flaw in the plan, of course, is the uneven number of fixtures each team has and the lack of a home and away structure. Amending this, preferably by the introduction of the latter, would require a complete redrawing of the European calendar.

Clubs would push back against their window for games being pared back. Especially considering one owner in France is currently looking for even more power and influence.

"The obvious flaw in bringing bonus points into the current framework is that every second season a team has three away games and only two at home. So that would have to be addressed by either adding another nation or home and away fixtures. Again, we are creeping into the all-consuming club fixture schedule," writes D'Arcy.

"But to fail to learn from last year’s World Cup would be to accept the same four nations will be back in the semi-finals come Japan in 2019."

The system could also cheapen the Grand Slam - in 2002 France won all their matches but England would have claimed the Championship if bonus points were in operation.

The gap between the hemispheres was pretty brutally exposed during a World Cup on our doorstep last year. Doing nothing is not an option, but are bonus points the way to go?