Six Nations bonus points – we explain how the bonus-point system works in the championship

Six Nations Bonus Points Explained

It was big news when the Six Nations introduced bonus points for the first time in the tournament’s history in 2017, awarding teams an additional point for scoring four tries in a match or losing by seven points or fewer.

While bonus points have been widely used in domestic club competitions as well as the World Cup and Rugby Championship for many years, they had been avoided in the Six Nations because a team could win all five games – a Grand Slam – but lose out on the title if another team won four games with a bonus point, and lost the other match by seven points or fewer, or achieved the four try bonus point.

To break that down, a team could lose a match but still win two bonus points, win the four other matches with four try bonus points to secure a maximum of 22 points from four wins and a loss. For example, if a team lost 30-28 but scored four tries, they would still get 2 bonus points.

However, a team could secure only 20 points for a Grand Slam if they failed to score four tries in any of those matches, despite winning all five games.

A Grand Slam should obviously also result in a Six Nations title, so organisers solved this problem by awarding a team an additional three points should they win all five of their matches in the championship. Therefore, this ensures that a Grand Slam winning team would top the table with at least 23 points.

So this is how points are awarded in the Six Nations:

  • Four points are awarded for a win.
  • Two points are awarded for a draw.
  • A try bonus point is awarded for scoring four or more tries in a match.
  • A losing bonus point is awarded for losing by seven or fewer points.
  • If a team scored four tries in a match and loses by seven points or fewer, they are awarded both bonus points.
  • Three points are awarded to a team that wins all five of their matches, i.e. a Grand Slam.

England’s crucial penalty goal in last year’s Six Nations against France meant that even though they still lost the game 24-17, it provided them with a losing bonus point that proved the difference in the final standings, as they went on to win the title.

Ireland were the first to win those three bonus points for a Grand Slam in 2018 and Wales achieved the feat too in 2019.

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