Rugby union: Six Nations introduces bonus points to reward offensive play

LONDON (AFP) - Attacking rugby will be rewarded with bonus points in next year's Six Nations, organisers said on Wednesday, including match winners taking four points instead of two.

The Six Nations is the last major rugby union tournament to introduce bonus points - Super Rugby had them from the inception of the competition in 1996, the World Cup brought them in from 2003 and the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship and European Champions Cup also awards them.

The move, which will 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 garner a bonus point as well.

The new measure for the Six Nations, comprising England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy, has been called for by many within the game in recent years.

John Feehan, chief executive of the Six Nations, said they had sought to strike the right balance between rewarding attacking rugby and maintaining the climax to the showpiece - in the 2015 edition 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," said Feehan.

"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.

"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 provisos, 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 like 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.