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Bonus Point Maths Suggest Outlook Still Bleak For Ireland's 6 Nations Chances

Bonus Point Maths Suggest Outlook Still Bleak For Ireland's 6 Nations Chances
By Gavan Casey Updated
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Despite a record victory in Rome and a reinvigorated Irish camp, the maths would suggest Joe Schmidt's men will struggle to regain the Six Nations title - even with three victories to close out the tournament.

After a bonus-point defeat in Murrayfield and a nine-try rout of Italy, Ireland stand at six points. After wins over both France and Wales without bonus points, champions England have eight.

Buckle up, because we've got some serious permutations to iron out, and they don't look altogether great for Ireland.

For Ireland, three victories versus France, Wales and England - without a bonus point - would leave them on 18 points at championship's end.

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England have home ties with Italy and Scotland before they arrive in Dublin for a potential championship decider - two fixtures from which they are likely to garner 10 points, with four-try bonus points in both. This would leave them on 18 points before kick-off at the Aviva Stadium. If Ireland were to beat France and Wales without bonus points, they would enter that England encounter with 14. They would then need a bonus point victory over England by eight points or more to guarantee the title, and avoid points difference.

Conversely, England could be presented with the unusual conundrum of knowing a bonus-point defeat to Ireland (provided they can keep Ireland to three tries or less) would be enough to secure a second successive Six Nations title. Defeat without a losing bonus point for England in Dublin would likely see both teams finish on 18 points, and the Championship would be decided on points difference.

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Even if Ireland were to beat one of France and Wales with a bonus point (and the other without), and if England beat both Italy and Scotland with bonus points at Twickenham, a bonus point defeat for England at the Aviva (with Ireland scoring three tries or less) would take us to points difference.

Finally, being rather ambitious, two bonus point wins for Ireland over France and Wales would mean that a victory over England of any kind would guarantee the title.

A bonus point on points difference: The points difference solution will surely come under revision in due course. It seems absurd when combined with the bonus point system.

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Points difference is adjudged to incentivise attacking play, and so is used as a tiebreaker instead of head-to-head records; keep playing, keep scoring, because it might matter on the last day. But the bonus point system now incentivises the scoring of tries even more so than points difference. It does matter, and has a tangible effect on the table.

Combined with the points difference system, however, it also presents us with potential scenarios such as the anticlimax of an English bonus-point defeat in Dublin securing a Six Nations title, and England being unsure as to whether they should wildly celebrate a defeat. Depending instead on teams' head-to-head records would ideally prevent last-day title deciders from descending to farce.

SEE ALSO: 'We Don't Deserve To Be In 6 Nations': Italian Media Slaughter Team After Ireland Defeat

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