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The Lesson of Rugby's Super Saturday: Let's Reward Risk

Like the spectacular solar eclipse that many were fortunate to witness the previous day, last Saturday's extraordinary day of rugby was an event made more memorable by its rarity...

Like the spectacular solar eclipse that many were fortunate to witness the previous day, last Saturday's extraordinary day of rugby was an event made more memorable by its rarity.

There were 221 points scored in three matches, the winners of which could all have won the championship. Seemingly liberated from the chess-like shackles that tactician coaches invariably impose on their players simply to eke out wins, all six teams simply went for it.

In particular, Wales, Ireland and England knew that if they all won it would come down to how successfully they attacked, that the difference between points scored for and against would decide the championship.

That Ireland triumphed after a pulsating few hours is almost secondary to what interests me, however. What's most memorable to a casual rugby fan - and, let's be honest, many millions like me - is that the game was played as it was intended. Fast, daring, thrilling, try-scoring mayhem. Quick hands, quicker throw-ins, spontaneous mauls and outrageous passing moves from one tryline to the other. But, most importantly, tries.

The unique alignment of the day meant teams had to out-score each other and even when the win was near-guaranteed they had to score more. Those who'd paid hundreds of pounds for tickets were granted spectacles that will live long in the memory and those sat on our sofas were won over by the passion, drama and unbearable tension of the day.

And the tries.

Because that's all a sports fan really wants at the end of the day. Tries, goals, runs, hat-tricks, near-misses. The tacticians in print and on TV would have us believe that strategies and formations are what the game is all about, when it actual fact it is and always has been action.

The fans and paying public, the casual observer and the couldn't-care-less viewer. They want sport to be about more than just winning. They want to be entertained.

And I suspect that is what the player or competitor wants as well. When a Mourinho-shackled Chelsea team beat a relative minnow 1-0 by keeping the ball and controlling the game from the back, the players don't seem to enjoy the win as much as the mayhem of a 4-3 thriller. Because in the latter they are invigorated by the passion of the fans, not just their respect.

Even people who hate sport love the Olympics because it is often everything modern team games are not. It is fastest, highest, longest, fittest. Tactics come into play occasionally but the goal is to out-race every other competitor. That's what Saturday's rugby accidentally emulated. Dozens of men wanted to outscore each other.

So how about we capitalise on this remarkably obvious Damascene moment and encourage sport to reward the daring teams and individuals who want to score points, not just win.

There are 20 teams in the Premiership so how about at the end of the season, those who have scored the most goals - ignoring how many they've let in - get an extra 20 points, all the way down to the team who have scored least picking up a lowly single.

Goals would become a more important commodity than they currently are, and rightly so. Players would be liberated, fans feel like they are getting their money's worth and teams would have to decide whether 1-0 was OK to hold on to, or if an extra bit of daring was required. In an instant, World Cups would become interesting again.

In cricket - which already employs a runs and wickets points system in the county game - teams would get an extra 50 runs in each innings if, in Test matches, they score more boundaries than their opponents.

And in rugby, if you scored more tries at the end of a championship or qualifying group you'd get an extra two points. I know this has been attempted before but it's never stuck. Saturday's triple-bill - perhaps the greatest day's rugby that's ever been played - should convince the powers that be that it wasn't tactics and the win/lose ratio that made it so unforgettable. It was the compulsion to score more.

That's why Ireland eclipsed the rest. Although, by my calculations, England should have won.