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Six Nations veto bonus points bid as ‘unfair’

Jonathan JosephThe Six Nations have renewed their policy against bonus points despite a rising clamour for their introduction.

Their decision to stick with the traditional scoring system means the world’s most successful annual international tournament will continue to stand alone when it kicks off on Saturday week.

They believe the incentives are great enough without copying every other event from the World Cup down by adding more.

“The bonus points question comes before the Six Nations committee pretty well annually,’’ Six Nations chief executive John Feehan told The Rugby Paper.  “It is always considered but the stumbling block is always the same.

“The issue against bonus points is over the imbalance of home matches.

“Some countries have three, others have two. The Championship isn’t a league where all six teams are playing each other home and away in the same season.

“We would encourage all the teams to score more tries but we do not believe that bonus points in our Championship would add to the excitement. It would be inherently unfair.

“You could argue that bonus points would have a damaging effect and that it could be all over before the final round of matches.  We would point out that the structure creates an extremely competitive series of matches with no shortage of humdingers as we saw last year.

“There was one year when the effect of bonus points would have meant that the team winning the Grand Slam finished second.   That would not have been good for the Championship.

“We look at it from every angle. Is it going to be of more benefit or is it going to take something away? It’s hard to see that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”

The world’s No 1 referee, Nigel Owens, is the latest to raise an influential voice in favour of bonus points, one for losing by seven or fewer, another for scoring four or more tries.

“There is no doubt bonus points would add to the spectacle,’’ he told The Rugby Paper. “The tournament would get to another level as the teams would have to score more tries.’’

Maybe so, but by refusing to follow the herd the Six Nations have saved themselves from more than one embarrassing conclusion.

Had the method used in the World Cup, Champions’ Cup and all three major European League been adopted from the creation of the Six Nations in 2000, England would have been champions in 2001, ahead of the Grand Slam French by virtue of points-difference over the five matches.

Bonus points would also have caused another anti-climactic finish three years ago when Wales routed England in Cardiff to snatch the title. Each having finished with four wins out of five, Wales took the title by superior points-difference.

Under the bonus system, England would have been declared champions by virtue of one bonus point, for a four-try home win over Scotland at the start of that year against none by Wales.

An England team being crowned champions after their worst beating by Wales for more than 100 years would have done nothing for the Six Nations’ credibility.

* SANZA will change their bonus points system for the Super XV season. The extra point for teams scoring four or more tries will be scrapped and replaced by one for teams who score three tries more than their opponents – already in operation in the Top 14.

PETER JACKSON

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