For anyone who's been following the Rugby World Cup over the past couple weeks, you may have noticed that there is a "bonus point" system for match points during pool play. Scoring is as follows:
- 4 Points for a win
- 2 Points for a draw
- 1 Bonus point for scoring 4 or more tries in a match
- 1 Bonus point for losing by 7 points (a converted try) or less
The Bonus Point system was first adopted at the 2003 World Cup in order to encourage a more attacking style of play. Basically Rugby Union clubs through the 90s had realized that by playing a more conservative style and kicking field goals and penalties your risked turning the ball over less and could score points more consistently over a set period of time. But who wants to see a game of only field goals? The new scoring system encourages teams to pursue tries and play for full time whether winning or losing, and ideally reduce the need to rely on tie-breaks in determining pool standings.
From what I've seen, this mostly works. There are times when it doesn't seem necessary - such as when the umpire awards penalty time following a French score at full time, despite the game now being out of reach, and so the favoured team, with 3 additional days rest because they're the money favourite score an unnecessary try against an exhausted Canadian side with the match result already determined...but I digress.
At any rate, I decided to see how this scoring system would impact the Pac-12 standings.
Some ground rules:
- Given how early it is in the season, I am including out of conference games, future rankings will focus on conference play only once there is an acceptable sample size.
- In the event of a tie in both wins and points, tie breaks will be decided by a) conference wins b) head to head c) net point margin.
- Bonus points are awarded for scoring 4 touchdowns in a game (you do not have to convert them - this makes Arizona happy) or for losing by less than 7. Thus, a losing side that lost by 7 and scored for touchdowns could earn 2 bonus points for the week, while not earning any base points.
Pac 12 North
Team Base Points Bonus Points Total
1. Oregon 12 3 15
2. UW 12 3 15
3. Stanford 12 3 15
4. Cal 12 3 15
5. WSU 8 2 10
6. OSU 0 1 1
Pac 12 South
Team Base Points Bonus Points Total
1. ASU 12 4 16
2. USC 12 1 13
3. UCLA 8 3 11
4. Utah 8 1 9
5. Colorado 4 2 6
6. Arizona 4 2 6
Until we get deeper into conference play, this probably doesn't tell us a whole lot. But here are some early observations
- If Stamford had played this weekend they would probably be holding down the top spot.
- UCLA's wins haven't been anywhere near as good as there losses have been bad. This system seems to over value them.
- ASU may be really good. They are have scored 4 touchdowns in all 4 wins and had a close loss.
- USC's wins appear a little suspect under this system.
- No way around it, OSU is not good.
I've been thinking about how this scoring system would actually impact college football. The obvious counter-argument is that, late in a blow out, a team with 3 touchdowns would run up the score instead of running out the clock. While that may be the case later in the season, in most cases I don't think that would be true. I doubt most coaches would risk 4 points in order to try and get one. At the 50, up 10 with less than 2:00 to play, you're going to take a knee.
Conversely a team down 9 would have something to play for with the ball in those dying minutes.
I'm not sure how it would impact a coaches decision to gamble vs kick field goals on 4th down in the red zone, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.
Anyway, I'll update the rankings during the remainder of the season. I'll probably just attach them as a comment in the Pac 12 Review in future weeks, as the last thing I'm sure you want are more Polls/Power Rankings, but I fugre it might be worthwhile to revisit some rankings based on set ground rules only.
Finally, if you haven't checked out any of RWC2011 yet, I highly recommend you take the opportunity on the bye week to do so. This is the final week of Pool Play, Quarter finals begin next week. The US Side (the Eagles) has had a decent tournament so far, beating Russia, playing Ireland close, and well.... we won't talk about the Australia Game. They can't make quarter finals, but a 4 try win against Italy this week (a very tall task) would lock down third place and guarantee an invite back in 2015.