After years of the 6 Nations committee trundling out the ‘if it ain’t broke’ excuse they have finally decided to trial a bonus point system for the 2017 tournament.
This comes over twenty years since it was introduced in New Zealand competitions and 13 since it first featured in the World cup. So, it is hardly revolutionary, particularly bearing in mind that it is only a one year experiment to see if it works.
The traditionalists have already started screaming that this will ‘ruin the 6 Nations’ – hardly a rationale response. The argument has long been that it will be unfair as it is arguably easier to score 4 tries in sunny Rome than on a frozen pitch at Murrayfield. The fact is the tournament is basically unfair anyway for all teams as every other year as you only get two home games.
Under the existing system teams that are level at the end are separated by points difference – if that doesn’t give an advantage to those who played on a hard fast pitch at the Stadio Olimpico then I have no idea what does.
I’m all for anything that encourages more open play and for teams developing a stronger attacking plan.
The other anti -bonus point brigade argument was that a team could achieve a Grand Slam and still lose out to a team scoring multiple bonus points – something that would only ever have happened once as far as I can work out. The trial system has killed that by awarding 3 extra bonus points to anyone getting a GS.
So they are back to ‘it’s unfair’ and anyway ‘not broken’.
In 2013 Wales won the 6N with just 9 tries in the 5 games – in 2015 Ireland won with just 8.
It may not be broke, but it might well need some renovation – we have a chance to find out in 2017.
A final thought – one year is hardly sufficient to test the bonus points – isn’t it unfair on the teams with only two home games? (that’s sarcasm by the way!)