How would a bonus point system have affected Ireland's last Six Nations triumph?

It will be trialled in 2017

Sean O'Brien, Scotland, Ireland

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

And so it will happen: (i) The Union that wins the Match shall be awarded four Match Points or (if it scores four tries or more in the process) five Match Points.

The 2017 Six Nations Championship has had an extra layer of intrigue added to it with the introduction of the bonus point system that is present in club rugby.

There are other rules too:

(ii) The Union that loses the Match shall be awarded no Match Points or (if it scores four tries or more in the process or loses by a margin of seven points or fewer) one Match Point or (if it scores four tries or more in the process and loses by a margin of seven points or fewer) two Match Points.

(iii) Unions that draw a Match shall each be awarded two Match Points and any of them that scores four tries or more in the process shall be awarded a further one Match Point.

(iv) A Union that wins all five of its Matches (a "Grand Slam") shall be awarded a further three Match Points.

Prior to the 2017 trial run, the Six Nations has operated a simple two points for a win, zero for a defeat and one for a draw. 

Under those rules, Ireland won the tournament in 2014 and 2015 as Joe Schmidt coached the team to back-to-back triumphs.

But how would 2015 have changed, for example, had it occurred under the 2017 bonus point system?

Well, let's start by reminding ourselves how 2015 actually ended in terms of table points:

Ireland (8pts)

England (8pts) 

Wales (8pts)

France (4pts)

Italy (2pts)

Scotland (0pts)

Ireland won the Championship by a point difference of +63, compared to England (+57) and Wales (+53) after a memorable and dramatic final day which saw Schmidt's side score four tries in a 40-10 win in Scotland.

Yet, Ireland scored far fewer tries than England and Wales. The Irish side managed eight tries across five games in comparison to 18 and 13 for England and Wales respectively.

Indeed, Italy scored the same number of tries as Ireland but the strongest defence in the tournament contributed to us winning the championship by point difference.

Now, with a bonus point system. Here's how the table would look for the top three teams in 2015.

Ìreland 18 pts

England 18pts

Wales 18pts 

Ireland would have earned a losing bonus point for the 23-16 loss to Wales due to the seven-point swing and a winning bonus point for the win over Scotland.

England earn two winning bonus points for try-heavy wins over France and Italy, while the Welsh would earn a winning bonus point for beating Italy heavily with over four tries and a narrow 21-16 defeat against England would earn a losing bonus point.

The earlier try figures that saw England and Wales out-score Ireland did not turn out to be as big an advantage because eight of Wales' 13 tries all came in the win over Italy.

England saw 13 of their 18 come in two matches against France and Italy, although one more try against Scotland would have earned a bonus point had they scored one.