Six Nations chairman Pat Whelan: Bonus points system will 'enhance' competition
Six Nations chairman Pat Whelan believes the introduction of bonus points for this season's flagship tournament will "enhance" the competition.
The Six Nations Council announced that a bonus points system would be trialled in the 2017 RBS-sponsored championship, plus the women's and under-20 competitions, before it is reviewed.
"We have been looking at the feasibility of a bonus point system for a while and examining what kind of bonus point system would work best, given the unique properties and format of our Championships," Whelan said.
"We needed to ensure that whatever bonus point system we selected would work with the already proven structure of the Championships, and would serve to materially improve what is already there.
"We are happy that the system that we have decided to trial is the one best-suited to our Championships, and we are delighted to be going ahead with this new development.
"We believe that the initiative will enhance our competitions for fans, teams, broadcasters and all of those for whom the Championship means so much."
The system will use a tried and tested formula operated in other major rugby union events like the World Cup, Rugby Championship, European tournaments, Aviva Premiership and Guinness PRO12.
Four match points will be awarded to a winning team, with an extra point if they score four tries or more, while losing teams will be awarded no points but can collect a bonus point for scoring four tries or more or losing by a margin of seven points or less.
A drawn game will see countries awarded two points each, with an additional point for scoring four tries or more.
Additionally, a country that wins all five matches and achieves a Six Nations Grand Slam will be awarded a further three match points.
The three extra points awarded for winning all five games removes the unlikely possibility of a country having a 100 per cent record and still not being crowned champions.
It could have happened in the improbable event of a team claiming five victories and finishing on 20 points, while another team could win four matches - each with a maximum five-point haul - and then collect one or two bonuses in the game they lost for a maximum of 21 or 22 points.
Under the trialled system, though, five wins of four points each - plus three for achieving the Grand Slam - would make an unassailable total of 23 points.
The opening weekend of this season's competition sees Scotland hosting Ireland, followed by reigning champions England entertaining France on February 4, with Wales tackling Italy in Rome 24 hours later.
The Six Nations began in 2000 when Italy joined the established countries of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France.
England and France have each won the title five times, with Wales claiming four titles and Ireland three.
Had bonus points been awarded in last season's Six Nations, the finishing order would have been exactly the same - England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy.