5 years ago By Sedge Tiger

Recent analysis of the Six Nations by rugby statistician Stuart Farmer shows that this year’s Championship could be the closest yet. By Jon Newcombe

So far the five games played have combined to give us an average winning margin of a measly nine points per game, which is the most competitive margin since the fifteen encounters of 2010 event produced an average winning margin of just 10.53 points per match.

Had the bonus point system been employed, as it is in all other major competitions around the world, three of the five matches would have resulted in a bonus point being awarded to the losing side for finishing within seven points or less of their conquerors.

Ireland and Scotland would have picked up a point in Round 1 – nothing less than their efforts deserved it would be reasonable to argue, and the same would be true of Italy in Round 2 for losing to England by just five points.

On the eve of the Championship the debate about the introduction of bonus points into the Six Nations pops up more often than your average scrum, yet the largely conservative-thinking Six Nations committee always comes to the same conclusion that after 130-odd years of history, most of it successful, the competition is best left alone.

Australian David Moffett, then of the WRU, was the driving force behind concerted attempts to bring the Six Nations into line with other tournaments in 2005 and others have tried – and failed – ever since, with Six Nations Chief Executive John Feehan refusing to budge.

Personally, I don’t know whether it would work in a tournament with so few games. It also leaves the Championship open to a massive sense of anti-climax. Whereas the destiny of the title is nearly always uncertain going into the final weekend under the present rules it is quite conceivable that everything would be done and dusted at the end of Round 4 if bonus points were allowed to skew the picture.

The bonus point system would also leave the Six Nations open to ridicule because a Grand Slam winning side would not necessarily be guaranteed the title. Indeed, this would have been the case in 2002 when France swept all before them – including England, who would have finished top courtesy of their attack-minded approach under attack coach Brian Ashton.

On the flip-side, though, can the Six Nations as a spectacle afford to stay at variance with the result of the rugby landscape?

The reward of four points for a win and two for a draw with a bonus point acting as the cherry on top would surely make some of the stodgy fare on offer in recent years a lot more palatable because it would encourage sides to continue to attack rather than shut up shop.

Entertaining games in the Six Nations are in the minority, not the majority, which is a crying shame for a tournament that showcases the best talent on offer in the Northern Hemisphere. Thank heavens, I say, for Wales and their desire to buck the trend and go for broke while others try and stifle the life out of games.

How the Six Nations table looks with and without bonus points:

Current Table (without BP)*

Country PWDLPFPATotal
Wales 220050344
England 220032214
France 110030122
Ireland 100121230
Italy 200227490

*2 Points for a Win, 1 for a Draw

Current Table (with BP)*

Wales 22005034008
France 11003012105
Ireland 10012123011
Italy 20022749011

*4 Points for a Win, 2 for a Draw

Where next?

THE YOUNG TURKS (ISSUE 14) Senior Colts Captain Paddy Paine returns with his insight as he brings us up to speed on Colts matters in the Fourteenth of his Young Turks articles.
200 CLUB WINNERS Here is the latest list of lucky 200 club winners taking the results up to week ending 19/02/12


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