Why Dan Carter Is Wrong to Call for 6 Nations Bonus Points

Danny Coyle@dannyjpcoyleFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2016

Racing Metro 92 New Zealand's fly-half and world champion, Dan Carter, poses on March 30, 2016 at Racing Metro 92 training centre in Le Plessis-Robinson, near Paris. / AFP / MARTIN BUREAU        (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
MARTIN BUREAU/Getty Images

England might have broken their 13-year Grand Slam hoodoo in 2016 when they swept the board at the Six Nations.

But this year's instalment of the famous old championship was far from a classic. Quality and entertainment were often hard to come by, particularly in the drudgery served up when England played Scotland, Ireland played France and Les Bleus visited Cardiff.

It prompted one venerated observer to suggest a tweak to the format to boost the thrill factor, or at least the try count.

Dan Carter has only been earning a crust in Europe for a matter of months, but he has seen enough in one Six Nations, the pinnacle of the continent's rugby structure, to figure that it could do with a spruce-up in the form of a bonus point for any side reaching that magic four-try haul in a game and another for losing by fewer than seven points.

"I definitely think it would be great," Carter said to the Times (via Reuters, h/t Sky Sports). "We play with them in all our competitions back home, always chasing the four tries to get the bonus point. It entices you to not only look for the win. I think it'd be good up here too."

Carter has a point. In the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship, the average try count per game according to Sky Sports was 5.5 in 2015, compared to the 3.3 mustered in this year's Six Nations.

And it's a format the players of the leading domestic leagues in the northern hemisphere are used to as well, with it deployed in both league and European competition.

But the destination of this year's title would not have been altered by the bonus-point system. Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy were already out of the Grand Slam running, and Wales accounted for France at the halfway point to leave the path clear for England to complete a whitewash regardless of how they beat their opposition.

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 19: Grand Slam winning captain Dylan Hartley #2 of England lifts the trophy following his team's 31-21 victory of the RBS Six Nations game between France and England at Stade de France on March 19, 2016 in Saint Denis near Paris, Fra
Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

England's dominant season aside, three points covered second to fifth in the table this year.

Ireland lost by a point in France and so would have gained one more from that fixture, while Wales roared back against England and would have salvaged a losing bonus at Twickenham, which may have calmed down Shaun Edwards, who was irate at the fact Wales outscored England three tries to one and still lost, per Richard Williams of the BBC.

Italy would have gained a point for their narrow defeat to France, too. None of this would have had a major impact on how things shook out.

Carter misses the point by suggesting bonus points would suddenly turn the Six Nations into a try-fest. There are dull games in the Rugby Championship too. Anyone who watched the tryless draw between New Zealand and Australia in 2014 will attest to that.

And witnesses to the final day of the 2015 Six Nations weren’t calling for an overhaul of the scoring system after that dramatic Saturday, per the BBC.

If it's more tries Carter wants to see, he might be better off throwing his support behind the current scoring system being trialled in the Welsh Premiership, per the BBC.

It makes tries worth six points and all kicks worth two and would have made England's win over Wales an 18-18 draw.

The Six Nations is a short tournament, and the genuine glory is in achieving the Grand Slam, winning every game. Ask Ireland's players which title means more. I'm willing to bet the 2009 Grand Slam one ranks higher than their two recent championships that came with four wins from five.

And remember the looks on the faces of Martin Johnson's England side who won the title in Dublin in 2001 having just been hammered by Keith Wood's Ireland.

Scrapping to a title by bonus points won't ramp up the Six Nations' entertainment factor, and the system's absence isn't the reason the northern hemisphere finds itself behind the south in terms of quality.