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The bonus point system used in many rugby international group tournaments will possibly determine the pool advancement in the Japan Rugby World Cup that begins September 2019. Since rugby union employs no overtime periods or other sudden death scenarios for game ending ties, bonus points determine who advances.
In rugby tournaments, points are given as follows:
- Four points for a win
- Two points for a draw
Basically, one bonus point is awarded for:
- A team that loses by 7 or fewer points, and,
- A team that scores 4 tries or more
This system, unique to rugby, differs from soccer football, which uses a penalty kick shootout in case of a tie. Additionally, at season's league's end, professional soccer often employs the point tally difference, promoting the team with a higher positive goal differential.
Gridiron football in the USA and Canada uses an alternating offense series of downs from ten to 25-yards to score.
However, one time for rugby, the European Heineken Cup of 2009 experimented with a tiebreaker ending, which involved five players taking kicks on goal from the center of the 22-meter line.
In the RWC of 2015, the bonus point system determined the two finalists in the Pool B bracket where three teams finished 3-1.
Team Win Loss Bonus Total
SA 3 1 4 16
Scot. 3 1 2 14
Japan 3 1 0 12
Samoa 1 3 2 6
USA 0 4 0 0
Is the bonus point system fair? The answer may be that in lieu of an overtime kicking shootout, it is the only levelheaded method. In essence, it awards extra points for tight games, and also, for scoring many tries. For Japan, their sparkling upset over the Springboks in the RWC 2015 opening match was not enough to move them into the quarter finals.
Pool C of the 2019 RWC lists three of the top ten ranked fifteens, England, France, and Argentina. Look for bonus points to resolve any ties. And look, also, for these three contenders to try to achieve that four try bonus against each other, but, more probably, against the other two nations in the pool...Tonga and the USA.