Opinion seems divided across the ruggersphere about today's announcement from the Six Nations "alickadoos" that they will be introducing "bonus points" to the tournament for the 2017 version of the age old competition.
Here are a few random thoughts as the news sinks in...
- I'm very, very surprised that they have made the change so close to the kickoff of a tournament. I wouldn't have batted an eyelid if they instead said it wouldn't come into effect until 2018.
- Overall, I reckon it's a good idea - not in that it will definitely "work", but since it has been mooted and debated for so long at least now we are going to give it a go. Sure we've seen the method used in other competitions but this is a unique one. Effectively Six Nations fans are going to be like kids trying broccoli for the first time and it will be hard to tell if it's good for them going by the taste.
- Many are making arguments about perceived unfairness because of the competition's uneven home and away schedule each year. I do take that point, but as things stood, with points difference being the primary tiebreaker, that was still the case. Rugby is built on the fact that it is "perfectly imperfect" - a ball can be dropped several times in the same spot with different results, yet we still play through that unfairness as well as many others.
- I reckon the swaying factor for Six Nations Ltd was the desire to have eyeballs on the TV screens for all 80 minutes of matches. The bonus point is normally a "thing" for the final quarter, for when a team has a decent lead but with only two or three tries in or when a team is around 14 points behind. Many fans would switch off in those cases when it looked like there was nothing to play for.
- For my taste, I'd prefer the try bonus system used in France and (now) Super Rugby where instead of having to score 4 or more tries, you need to get at least 3 more than your opposition.
- When it comes to Six Nations reform, I'd be more in favour of moving the competition in the calendar and/or finding a path for Tier Two countries like Georgia and Romania to have a chance at top level competition. This move has the feel of "well we won't do any of that, but look - at least we're willing to do something different!" about it.
- That said, at least they're willing to do something different.
Let's see how it goes, shall we. If nothing else it will add an extra layer to the public debate when the 2017 tournament rolls around...
"See? That match wouldn't have been as exciting without bonus points!"
"See? If they were away to Italy instead of at home they wouldn't have gotten that fourth try!"
I'm pretty sure everyone will find something to prove themselves right! ;-) JLP