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Under the scoring system in use in the Tri-Nations and the three major European club leagues, no country in the 2011 Championship would have been entitled to more than two additional points.
The try bonus, for four or more in the same match, would have applied to France, on the opening weekend against Scotland, and to England, against Italy at Twickenham the following weekend.
The losing bonus point, for a defeat by seven points or fewer, could have been claimed on seven occasions – by Ireland, twice, Scotland, twice, and Wales, France and Italy once.
The argument that the Six Nations ought to fall into line with the rest by adopting the system strikes me as a very good reason for staying as they are and resisting any temptation to follow the common herd.
The Championship has been around for far too long in the course of earning its unique status to have to justify doing it their way.
If bonus points make no significant difference to the final pecking order, why bother with them?
There is always the danger, however slight, of the system doing more harm than good. The 2002 championship provides a classic example.
France won the Grand Slam that year, beating England, under Sir Clive Woodward, into second place.
They lost the critical match, 15-20 in Paris but would have out-pointed France 5-1 on bonus points over the course of the tournament, enough to have finished first.
For every other Six Nations season, bonus points would have made no difference to first and second, except in 2007 when Ireland were edged out of the title by France in a photo-finish.
It was the year when the Irish, under Eddie O’Sullivan, finished with a landslide win in Rome which meant France knew exactly what they had to do in the concluding match that evening – beat Scotland by a margin of 24 points or more.
In a fairer world, both matches ought to have kicked-off simultaneously.
France duly did the necessary, thanks to a last-minute try by Elvis Vermeulen.
While both countries finished level with four wins out of five, both would also have been entitled to two try-bonus points – France for emphatic wins over Italy and Scotland, Ireland for equally emphatic wins England, whom they thrashed 43-13 at Croke Park, and Italy (51-24).
The decisive point in Ireland’s favour would have come from a losing bonus to the French at ‘Croker’ where Vincent Clerc scored a late winner. That point would have made all the difference.
Again, that scenario could be viewed as exposing another flaw in the bonus system.
Why should the team responsible for the most important away win of the championship (France in Dublin) be punished?
More to the point, why should Ireland gain something from a home loss, especially if that something then gives them the title by the narrowest possible margin?
The subject has been raised every so often amongst the Six at boardroom level, most volubly by David Moffett during his time as chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union.
Each time its pros and cons have been discussed and the idea shelved for the perfectly valid reason that it offers a less than compelling case for its introduction.
When the subject is next aired, the Six Nations will surely have a strong case for applying a simple piece of home-spun philosophy before moving on to their next business – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….