Bonus points for games are not something you see a lot of in sports, but it is a system rugby has used for quite a few years now. So how exactly do teams get these bonus points?
Can you score 2 bonus points in rugby? Yes, you can get two bonus points in rugby. A team is awarded two bonus points if they lose by seven points or fewer and score four tries in the same game.
The bonus point system allows teams to pick up extra points alongside a win or draw. It also allows a losing team to pick up a maximum of two bonus points. Only the losing team can score two bonus points, with a team that wins or draws a game only being able to pick up one bonus point alongside the points they get for the result.
To score two bonus points you first need to lose a game by seven points or fewer. This is known as the losing bonus point. A losing team can earn a second bonus point if they have scored four or more tries in the game as well as losing by seven or fewer points. Only a losing team can get 2 bonus points, with a team that draws or wins only able to get one bonus point.
This is the scheme for the majority of rugby competitions across the globe, however, there are quite a few examples of systems where you cannot earn two bonus points in a game. French Rugby is a great example of this.
The French system has the same bonus point for losing by a specified margin, although it is five points. However, they have a different try bonus that does not allow losing teams to earn a bonus point. The try bonus point in France is given to the winning team if they score at least three more tries than their opponent.
This means it is impossible for teams playing in the Top 14 or Rugby Pro D2 to earn two bonus points as the try bonus is only for winning teams. A similar system has been used in Super Rugby in the past. This is also the system that is currently used in the Rugby Championship.
When were bonus points introduced to rugby?
Bonus points are something pretty much all teams in the world can earn in a rugby competition, but they have not always been part of the sport. The bonus point system was originally created to be introduced to the National Provincial Championship which is the domestic competition in New Zealand.
This system was first introduced in 1995 and became part of the system of scoring for the inaugural Super Rugby season in 1996. It was not really used on an international scale until 2003 when the bonus point system was used in the Rugby World Cup. Its introduction into the World Cup has really been the driving factor in all professional international and domestic competitions using the bonus point system.
Why is there bonus points in rugby?
There are two main bonus points that teams can earn and there are reasons behind both of them being introduced to the game.
The try-scoring rule varies between the leagues as to whether or not the losing team can earn the try bonus point. But the idea behind the try-scoring bonus is to incentivise teams aiming to score tries. Teams kicking a lot of penalties is not particularly exciting and rugby was looking for a way to incentivise teams to score tries.
By adding the try-scoring bonus, teams have the incentive to chase tries. This works both ways depending on which rule the competition has in place. If it is the four-try rule it gives the losing team something to play for even if they are quite far behind. If it is the French system, it stops teams sitting on their leads and encourages them to continue attacking.
The losing bonus point system was introduced so that losing teams would still get some reward for making a game close. It makes the games more competitive as losing teams are still looking for the losing bonus point even if they cannot win the game.
Six Nations Bonus Point system
The bonus point system in the Six Nations is very similar to the one used in the majority of professional leagues around the world. Teams can earn a maximum of two bonus points in most games. The first bonus point is for scoring four or more tries in a single game. The second bonus point is the losing bonus point, given to a team if they lose by seven points or fewer.
There is one major difference in the bonus point system for the Six Nations. If a team wins all five of their games then they are the Grand Slam Champions. To ensure that the Grand Slam Champions are also the Six Nations champions, three bonus points are awarded to the team that wins the Grand Slam.
This ensures that a team with one loss and four wins cannot beat the Grand Slam winners on points thanks to the bonus points being introduced to the Six Nations. The Six Nations were actually one of the last competitions to introduce bonus points, with bonus points first being used in the Six Nations from the 2017 Championship onwards.
Rugby Championship Bonus point rules
The bonus point system is slightly different in the Rugby Championship than it is in other major international competitions. There is still the losing bonus point which says a team earns a bonus point if they lose by seven points or fewer.
However, the attacking bonus point is slightly different. A team earns a try bonus point if they win and score at least three more tries during the game than their opponent. This is so the losing team cannot earn more than one bonus point and a team that draws a game cannot earn any bonus points. This rule was introduced in 2016 and is still used today.