Apparently last weekend’s win for Wales over Scotland (rugby union, should I add?) was a record victory.  I didn’t see in the press why it was a record, but would presume that it referred to Wales-Scotland matches, and certainly that it meant the winning margin.

Whenever I see references to such records in rugby (union) I find myself wondering what the all-time records would be if the scoring system had remained unchanged.  There can be few sports where the system for scores has changed so much so fast.  Fifty years ago or so it was three points for a try, which of course made it the same as a penalty.  Reasonably enough this was felt to be a poor incentive to score tries, and in due course the value went up to four.  I don’t think that lasted very long, and maybe should check it out, but after a while (maybe round about 20 years?) the value was increased again, to five.

Now, it is clear that any big win involving (say) seven tries against one would result in a margin of 12 points more now than fifty years ago.  So a “record win” could be merely the result of adding value to the try.  If it became a six-point score next season there would be yet more scope for some new records.

I don’t suppose this will have many people lying awake at night worrying, but it might be interesting to see what the best winning margins might be if values were standardised for comparison.  I suppose it’s even possible to say that some recent narrow victories would in the past would have been defeats in the past simply because the modern winners’ number of points would have been less.  Which in turn raises the spectre that Lions Tours or Six Nations might have had different outcomes…  Oh no. let’s forget the whole thing!


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