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Six Nations to unveil new bonus points format next year

Attacking rugby will be rewarded with bonus points at Six Nations 2017, competition organisers announced on Wednesday. Warriors @ Cavaliers

Six Nations to unveil new bonus points format next year
Andrew Couldridge REUTERS

New format

Attacking rugby will be rewarded with bonus points at Six Nations 2017, organisers announced on Wednesday, with match winners taking four points instead of two.

Latecomers

The Six Nations is the last major rugby tournament to introduce bonus points - Super Rugby introduced them from the start of the competition in 1996, the World Cup brought them in from 2003 and the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship and European Champions Cup also employs a bonus points system.

The England squad training in Surrey yesterday

Trial run

The move, which will initially be on a trial basis and apply also to the Women's and Under-20s Six Nations tournaments, will see the winners of each match receive four points instead of two, but if they score four or more tries they will be handed a bonus point as well.

The new measure for the Six Nations has been called for by many within the game in recent years. Six Nations CEO John Feehan said they had attempted to strike the right balance between rewarding attacking rugby and maintaining the climax to the event - which was reflected in the 2015 edition when three countries went into the final games with chances of winning the crown.

“The drama and excitement of the last weekend of the Six Nations Championship is unique and is, more often than not, driven by a number of teams on equal championship points all competing for first place on the table. It is important for us to ensure that any bonus-point system which is implemented would not, in any way, take away from this unique dynamic”, Feehan explained today. “But at the same time, we are also conscious that we must reward try-scoring and an attacking style of play that will deliver more tries and greater rewards for fans and players alike”.

Even losing sides can come away with something if they meet certain requisites - gaining one point for either losing by seven points or less or for scoring four tries in a defeat, and two points if they lose by seven points or less but score four tries in the process. If there is a draw both teams split the points as before, only this time they will get two apiece.

A Grand Slam such as the one England achieved in their first Six Nations under Eddie Jones this year will see the team awarded three extra points, which would give them some form of insurance over teams who might lose a match but gain enough bonus points to overhaul the side that beat all of their rivals.