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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.



Rugby union has no overtime periods in tie games? Did you see the RWC 1995 final? 2003? In fact, both of those matches came very close to being resolved with goal kicks, though fortunately Joel Stransky and Jonny Wilkinson saved us from that ignominy. The bonus point system does not exist in order to resolve the standings if teams have identical records (though occasionally it does that) - in fact, it occasionally enables teams with worse records to achieve a higher placement than a team with a better record. Rather, it exists in order to encourage both attacking play and competitiveness even after a result is obvious. Moreover, the bonus point system you described is not the only one. It is not used, for example, in the Rugby Championship. You should do more research on your articles.