Would bonuses have changed Six Nations winners?

Date published: December 1 2016

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The addition of bonus points on a trial basis in 2017 is set to give the Six Nations a vastly different feel, but could it have changed the outcome in the past?

We’ve gone through the tournament back to the expansion in 2000 to see if the title would have ended up elsewhere. Remember, try bonus points are awarded for four tries, with losing bonus points given if finishing within seven points or less of the winning side.

2015

One of the best final days we’ve ever seen in the tournament led to Ireland clinching the title over England on points difference, when Stuart Lancaster’s side fell short of knocking Ireland off top spot with a points difference of 57 compared to the champions’ 63.

Include try bonus points and losing points and the outcome remains the same. Each of Ireland, England and Wales would still be tied on 18 points due to their respective bonuses – England’s lack of a try bonus point in their win over Scotland still proving costly.

Ireland’s superior points difference would then come into play as the tiebreaker (the next rule after that being most tries scored).

Team Wins Points Points Difference Try BP Losing BP Total Points with BPs
Ireland 4 8 +63 1 1 18
England 4 8 +57 2 0 18
Wales 4 8 +53 1 1 18
France 2 4 +2 1 2 11
Italy 1 2 -120 0 0 4
Scotland 0 0 -55 0 2 2

 

 

 

 

 

 


2014

A similar story the year previously had Ireland edge out England on points difference, this time with a margin of 83 to 73.

Once more the two sides, with four wins each, wouldn’t have been tied on 18 table points after securing two bonus points each, except on this occasion with an attacking and losing BP each to their names.

Ireland on three occasions finished matches in this year having scored three tries, in their first two matches to Scotland and Wales and on the final day against France.

Team Wins Points Points Difference Try BP Losing BP Total Points with BPs
Ireland 4 8 +83 1 1 18
England 4 8 +73 1 1 18
Wales 3 6 +43 1 0 13
France 3 6 +1 0 1 13
Scotland 1 2 -91 0 1 5
Italy 0 0 -109 0 1 1

 

 

 

 

 

 


2013

This time we would have had a different winner. 2013 will always be remembered for Wales tearing England apart on that final day under the roof in Cardiff, snatching a Grand Slam away in the process.

However that famous 30-3 victory would have meant little in the outcome of the Six Nations had bonus points been available.

Wales managed no potential bonus points throughout the five matches, but England’s four-try effort against Scotland on the opening day would have come through to clinch the title.

Team Wins Points Points Difference Try BP Losing BP Total Points with BPs
England 4 8 +16 1 0 17
Wales 4 8 +56 0 0 16
Scotland 2 4 -9 1 1 10
Italy 2 4 -36 0 1 9
Ireland 1 (plus draw) 3 -9 0 3 6
France 1 (plus draw) 3 -18 0 1 4

 

 

 

 

 

 


2007

Ireland ended their long wait for a Six Nations title with the Grand Slam in 2009, but they could have lifted the trophy for the first time since 1985 a couple of years earlier had bonus points been part of the system at the time.

Eddie O’Sullivan’s side picked up two try bonus point and one losing bonus point in 2007, meaning they would have finished a point ahead of actual winners France who had the superior points difference.

Team Wins Points Points Difference Try BP Losing BP Total Points with BPs
Ireland 4 8 +65 2 1 19
France 4 8 +69 2 0 18
England 3 6 +4 1 0 13
Italy 2 4 -53 1 0 9
Wales 1 2 -27 0 1 3
Scotland 1 2 -58 0 1 3

 

 

 

 

 

 


Other notable years

2006: France and Ireland were once again separated by points difference at the end of the tournament but France also accumulated more bonus points – two attacking and crucially one losing bonus point in their opening loss to Scotland. The latter point would have been the difference.

2002: France’s Grand Slam in 2002 would have given them a total of 23 points – 20 for five wins, with no bonus points, plus the additional three for winning all five matches – but what is interesting is that England scored more tries that year and remarkably would have closed the gap from France’s 23 points to England’s 16, to 23 to 20, given that England scored more than four tries in four of their matches that year.

2001: England and Ireland might have finished tied initially on 16 points but England’s 29 tries that year would have seen them spring clear anyway to finish on 20 points to Ireland’s 17, having scored more than four tries in all but one game – the crucial fifth and final trip to Dublin that cost them the Grand Slam.

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