Rugby union bonus points system

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The Rugby union bonus points system is a method of deciding table points from a rugby union match. It was implemented in order to encourage attacking play throughout a match, to discourage repetitive goal-kicking, and to reward teams for "coming close" in losing efforts. Under the standard system, points are awarded as follows:

  • 4 points for a win.
  • 2 points for a draw.
  • 1 "bonus" point for scoring 4 tries (or more).
  • 1 "bonus" point for losing by 7 points (or fewer).

No team can get more than 5 points in a match.

The French professional league, Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), uses a similar system in its two competitions, the Top 14 and Rugby Pro D2. After trialling the system in 2007-08, LNR adopted the new system permanently after that season.[1]

The French system awards points in this manner:

  • 4 points for a win.
  • 2 points for a draw.
  • 1 "bonus" point for winning while scoring at least 3 more tries than the opponent.
  • 1 "bonus" point for losing by 7 points (or fewer).

This system prevents a losing team from picking up two bonus points in the same match, as is possible under the normal system.[2] It also means that neither team earns a bonus point in a drawn match.


This format was created for New Zealand's domestic competition, the National Provincial Championship, in 1995 and subsequently adopted in the inaugural Super 12 in 1996. It was first used at the Rugby World Cup in 2003, and has been the staple for international and club competition since, with the notable exception of the Six Nations Championship. If the Six Nations used the bonus point system, England would have won in 2002 despite France winning the Grand Slam.

Other forms of rugby[edit]

Rugby Sevens, while still under the rugby union banner, does not use this system, and instead gives points for wins and draws. Sevens is a faster, more try-friendly game with a shorter time limit and a tendency to have runaway results. Sevens competitions are also usually one- or two-day affairs with an emphasis on the final bracket. All of this means there is little reason in using the Bonus Point System for the 7-a-side game.

Rugby league has tried out similar bonus point systems in some competitions, but most competitions only give points for wins and draws. However, since the 2007 season, the Championship and Championship 1 (the two levels below Super League), primarily in England with one team in France, give 3 points for a win, 2 for a draw, and 1 for a loss by 12 points or fewer (this amounts to two converted tries in rugby league, which gives 4 points for a try instead of 5 in union).

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Article 330, Section 3.2. Points "terrain"". Reglements de la Ligue Nationale de Rugby 2008/2009, Chapitre 2 : Règlement sportif du Championnat de France Professionnel (in French). Ligue Nationale de Rugby. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  2. ^ "French try out new bonus point system". 2007-06-27. Retrieved 2007-07-15.