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

There have already been some instances int he 2024 championship, where they have been applied. But what’s the history of bonus points in the Six Nations?

Since the 2017 championship, the Six Nations has used a bonus points system. Which means awarding the teams in the championship an additional point for scoring four tries in a match or for losing by seven points or fewer.

Bonus points have been used widely across domestic club competitions in rugby as well as during Rugby World Cups and other major competitions. However, they had been avoided in the Six Nations in the past because one of the teams could win their five games – in what we all call a Grand Slam – but then could still miss out on the trophy because another team had won four matches with a try bonus point, and lost the other match by seven points or fewer, as wel as taking the four-try bonus point.

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A Grand Slam should clearly hand the victors a Six Nations title, so the competitions heads solved this problem by awarding a team an additional three points should they win all five of their matches in the championship. So, this guarantees that a Grand Slam-winning team will top the table with at least 23 points.

Six Nations bonus points break down like this:

  • 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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