Six Nations chief executive John Feehan says the new bonus point system is aimed at stopping teams "creeping" towards the final fixture. 

This morning it was announced that the new system will come into play for the 2017 tournament.

Four match points will be awarded to a winning team, with an extra point if they score four tries or more, while losing teams will be awarded no points but can collect a bonus point for scoring four tries or more or by losing by a margin of seven points or less.

A drawn game will see countries awarded two points each, with an additional point for scoring four tries or more.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Feehan said: “We think it’s going to encourages tries, which is actually the most important part of what we’re trying to achieve here.

“It also means that teams right from the off, from the first weekend, will be positive in their approach towards the games and it’s not just a case of creeping through the weeks to try and hit that final weekend.

“I think it’s very important that we do encourage people to go for the big scores, and more importantly to try and score tries. In other words, instead of going for a penalty they go for a try.

“I wouldn’t say in any sense that it’s been dull or boring in the first four rounds of the championship but it’s an encouragement to be a bit more positive in your outlook.

“I don’t think this is a fundamental change, I think it’s a tweak to try and encourage more positive play.”

Ireland, winners in 2014 and 2015, open their Six Nations campaign away to Scotland on 4 February.