Six Nations Rugby Quiz Puzzle Answer

When leagues in Rugby Union first started teams were awarded two points for a win, one for a draw and nothing for losing. Over time, to reward attacking play, and to keep more matches "live" towards the end, bonus points were gradually introduced into the leagues.

Teams get four points for winning and two for a draw, with two sources of extra (or bonus) points. To reward attacking, try-scoring rugby, a team that scores four or more tries in a game gets a Try Bonus Point. And to keep matches alive, a team that loses by seven points or fewer gets a Losing Bonus Point (a team behind by, say, ten points can get a bonus point if they score, so will have something to play for even if the match is lost).

One of the tournaments that resisted bonus points for the longest was the Six Nations, and many people suspect that this was because of the very real possibility that a team could win all five of their games (the fabled Grand Slam), but not win the Championship.

If the team winning all five games got no bonus points, and a team winning four games picked up enough bonus points, the Grand Slam winners would come second.

To get around this little "difficulty" the organisers introduced a Grand Slam bonus of three points. That is, any team winning all five games gets three extra points.

So the puzzle this week is to work out what is the highest number of league points a team can get and still finish second.

The temptation here is to assume that this will be in a situation where one team gets the Grand Slam and the second place team wins four games, but picks up six bonus points (five try-scoring and one losing). In this case the second team would get four lots of four points for the wins (16) and six bonus points, for a total of 22.

Wins Draws Loses Try BP Losing BP GS BP Total
1 5 0 0 0 0 3 23
2 4 0 1 5 1 0 22


However, if both the top two teams win four games and draw the game between them, they will each get four lots of four for the wins, and two for the draw, making 18. Then they can also both pick up five try-scoring bonus points, and each get a total of 23 points. With both teams level the title would be decided by points difference, that is points scored minus points conceded.

Wins Draws Loses Try BP Losing BP GS BP Total
1 4 1 0 5 0 0 23
2 4 1 0 5 0 0 23


So the answer is 23.


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