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Considering Scoring Changes for Rugby on Superbru

Here at Superbru HQ we are always striving to make our games on Superbru as enjoyable as possible, for as many people as possible. Over 300,000 players took part in our Rugby World Cup games, which is an extraordinary number of people and represents a huge diversity of interests, opinions and reasons for playing Superbru.

A key aspect of our games is obviously the scoring system, and we have made improvements across various sports in recent years, notably in Football and Cricket around the recent World Cups.

As we look ahead to the next 4-year cycle in Rugby, now is a good time to consider any improvements to our Rugby scoring model. We are always cautious doing this, because Rugby is our most popular sport on Superbru, and any changes we make need to be wary of the fact that thousands of people like it the way it is.

Recent changes

We have made some alterations in the past few seasons, including capping the Bonus Point so that you have to be within 15 points to qualify - and then making it configurable by pool captains because some people didn’t like the change. We also gave pool captains the ability to disable the feature which splits the Bonus Point amongst qualifiers; and to disable default picks in their pools.


The framework we use to design and change our scoring systems rests on three critical factors:
  • Scoring: how will it impact leaderboards over the course of a season?
  • Behaviour: how will it change picking behaviour, and will those changes make the game better or worse?
  • Explainability: will it pass the test of being able to explain it easily to a mate at a BBQ / braai?

This season: no changes

Looking ahead to this season, there are no changes planned to the rugby scoring system for 2020. We have received plenty of very valuable feedback over the past couple of seasons which has been discussed at length but currently don’t feel any proposed changes have satisfied the tests of our framework enough to implement.

Two proposed changes have been discussed most and we felt that it was right to address them here, ahead of the season, so that those who have kindly provided us with some ideas know where we stand.

Margin Points awarded even if you pick the losing team

“Why do you get any points when you get the pick wrong?”

As you know, if your pick is within 5 points of the actual margin, you will win 0.5 points on Superbru, reflecting your accuracy in predicting how close a game would be between the two sides.

The argument for this is that the margin pick should be considered in isolation from picking the winning team. Step 1, predict the winner. Step 2, predict how close the game will be. And then you win points for accuracy in each of those predictions.

The counter argument that some people make is that if you pick the wrong team to win, your prediction was incorrect and you should receive no points at all.

I can see both sides, I don’t feel too strongly either way, and we were all set to run a referendum, asking the Superbru community whether or not we should award MPs even if you pick the losing team.

However, one thing that is difficult to model is how it might change future picking behaviour, and a longtime Superbru player raised the issue that it could deter people from picking any margins under 6 so that you get the full benefit of the 5-point MP range.

If you pick the Blues to win by 1, you wouldn’t win the MP if the Reds win by 1, and so there are only 5 possible results that will yield the coveted 0.5 points. If you pick the Blues to win by 6, however, you’ll score the MP if they win by 1, or if they win by 11, and so there are 10 possible results in MP range.

This potential concentration of picks is a concern - if everyone had the same prediction, the game would be no fun at all, and there would be no movement on the leaderboards.

So whilst the change would not make a massive difference to leaderboards over the course of a season on current picking behaviour, it would alter things with the new picking behaviour it would encourage.

With this in mind, we are not running a referendum on this, because we would be uncomfortable implementing the result if people vote to remove it.

Tiered Margin Points

“The more accurate you are, the more points you should get”

This is a valid statement, and of course we try to ensure our scoring systems are all fair and reward accurate predictions sufficiently.

Some people have proposed a tiered Margin Point system whereby an exact pick scores more points than a pick that is out by 5, or where you could even extend the range to reward picks within 10 of the result.

The argument for a tiered system is better-rewarding accuracy. However, adjusting the value of the MP might distort the importance of that particular point, and therefore cluster picks around more conservative margins, creating a negative behavioural changes. For example, extending a small MP to 10 points out (e.g. 0.25 pts for being within 5 - 10 of the actual margin) would have seen MP being awarded to 62% of winning picks in Super Rugby 2019 (up from 41% in our current system). With a majority of players earning MP, not earning MP in any given game would feel like a negative outcome, and this would skew and cluster picks around more conservative outcomes.

Also, the MP would become harder to explain and risk failing the explainability test. Currently, everyone knows if you’re within 5 points of the result, you’ll get a Margin Point. Our MP system is easy to understand, you don’t have to check Superbru to see how many points you have won, and it’s easy to explain to a friend that is thinking of joining your pool.

Other suggestions have come our way over the last few years, and all are considered carefully and often discussed at length in the office. Please feel free to share any feedback, and we are always listening.

Contact us

Good luck for the season ahead!

2,870 caps
Stay with the 2019 points system. Everyone understands it and it makes it interesting. Most pools have been decided by that margin point for the team that lost. It also does not make you feel too bad about your wrong picks....haha
21 Jan 12:46
2,660 caps
Agree. System works, everyone understands it and we had a tournament where that 0.5 MP for the losing team moved that player into a prize payout position.

Awesome setup at the moment and the pools are growing so it must be working. 23 Jan 08:54
16,245 caps
As an bit of outsider as not a rugby expert more in football and other sports, it does seem a bit weird you get points for picking the losing team and notice that the community average pick in rugby and nfl (which does produce a lot of close finishes) is usually 1 point to the favs. Know this is a different point but in nfl commander in chief game only 3 games so don't think should be any default picks.
21 Jan 13:26
9,262 caps
Thanks for the feedback Hutch! Valid reasons exist to retain the current system, or to remove the losing teams Margin Point eligibility. Either way, it works pretty well.

That said; under the current system my approach is:
- Decide on a winner
- Pick a Margin of 6 or more
If I can't separate the teams, and believe they might draw, pick a Margin of between 1 and 5. Can't predict a tie, as they are so rare, but at least I'll get the MP if they do draw.
21 Jan 13:46
8,433 caps
I still feel in Football you should get 1 for a Win, 0,5 for a close and 1 for an Exact. That leaves you with 2 for an Exact. 3 is simply too high & incentivise pure luck. If I predict eg 1-0 and the score end up 0-0, I get 0 and the other guy who predicts 0-0 gets 3. The one goal diffs between our predicitions should not be worth 3 points - it just doesn't make sense - the gap is too big. I am like everybody playing to this rule and am happy to get 3 once in a while but I know that it's pure luck and this perfect score should not get 2 points more that a Win.
21 Jan 13:55
16,245 caps
Yeah you do need exact scores to do well where 2 points would be fairer 21 Jan 14:02
5,237 caps
The whole thing about getting a losing margin point is super interesting. It used to be like that right? During the course of a tournament, that just become a lucky point. Like, ah you got it wrong but you knew it would be close, so here's 0.5 margin points or whatever.

In my opinion, it only actually changes pick behaviour when it comes down to the last game of a tournament and there are places up for grabs.

For example, I am at the top of a table, but a person in 2nd place is 3 points behind. There are 3 points up for grabs (let's say, i.e. win point, margin point and bonus point), and the person on top could potentially lose his place on top (via a draw and it comes down to points difference or whatever).
I have 2 choices:
1. Try pick the same team as the other player (impossible to predict, because that person is playing mind games too)
2.) Back the favourites to win by one point.

If you go with option 2, and the favourites win - you are smiling no one can catch you. If by so
21 Jan 14:48
35,273 caps
Stay with the curreng scoring system no need for change...was the best world cup expiring ever on superbru with MP deciding most on the pools!
21 Jan 15:40
16,680 caps
I think Slam Points changes could solve a lot of arguments. Push it more towards correct outcomes instead of being a bit lucky with an exact score in Football adding 1.5 or being 6 out costing you 0.5 in Rugby.

In Football, where there are 3 outcomes, you often have 3 or 4 out of 10 matches with heavy favorites, these are usually Top 6 teams. So does a 5/10 deserve 1 Slam point? I'd inflate their value by making them harder to earn. Say 1 for 6 correct out of 10, 2 for 7, 3 for 8, 4 for 9 & 5 (or maybe 10!) for a True Grand Slam of 10/10.

This would see a consistent Correct Outcome Picker trump a 'Lucky' Exact 3 points getter who only gets 5/10 right. It shouldn't be too hard to implement and is easy to explain. 1 point extra for every correct outcome better than 5 or 50% in a round.
21 Jan 18:49
20,147 caps
On the rugby I think the current scoring system is great. Perhaps the only change I would consider is If someone picks an absolute correct difference in score - they should be rewarded with the 1/2MP and a also 1 full point, and the BP is then only awarded when the exact score is not predicted. In that way any player getting the exact result is fully rewarded (as in the football system) 21 Jan 19:51
16,680 caps
If the SB computer has to allocate different points per pool, depending on if players got it exact, it creates processing problems & delays I think. Perhaps the scoring changes are 'Server Capacity Driven'. Who remembers having to wait overnight or not being able to access SB at all for ages? You got 'Sorry but we are busy ....' messages. The 'Processing' messages we get now barely last 5 or 10 minutes, so that's big progress but at a cost to pool individuality.

We lost the ability to tailor picks in different sized pools after many scoring changes came in. You can imagine the extra calculations required for the T20 when you could pick exact Runs instead of a quite large range. I'm sure SB HQ wish they could wave a magic wand and do loads of fancy changes but I'm guessing the hardware can't cope with the increasing traffic.

I'll just go along with whatever they decide & adapt accordingly. But there are so many more Newbies in the Global Top 10s now compared to 2 years ago 23 Jan 03:27
53,119 caps
As an easy solution I would make the win point worth 2 points. Then the 0.5 points for a margin pick for the losing team does not have such a huge impact. Remember when Football League went from 2 points for a win to 3 points for a win, there was an outcry. But now all Football Leagues around the world use this system because it rewards the winning team. Picking the winning team in rugby deserves more reward. Then the losing margin point will be 25% of the winning pick instead of the hefty 50% it is now
21 Jan 20:20
7,845 caps
Thank you Hutch. The simpler it is the better, don't fix something that is not broken.
21 Jan 20:24
37,542 caps
Many games are won by 1 to 5 points in super rugby so if you pick 6 or more you throw away the bonus point just to get a margin as many will still pick by 2 or 3 when they have a favourite but are worried about the outcome. So I strongly disagree, you need to choose the WINNING TEAM to be rewarded! Rugby is very popular so why must it be the ONLY SPORT where you can be wrong and still climb the table! Seriously..... But none the less thanks guys for listening to us and discussing it, I just wish you could"ve given us the option even if it was R50 or R100 a pool!
21 Jan 21:02
11,506 caps
I support the current scoring system, however, an additional 0.5 point for the exact score make sense.
22 Jan 07:07
34,962 caps
I too support the current scoring system in rugby.
KISS is a great rock band
And KISS applies here: keep it simple stupid
Thanks guys for not overcomplicating things.
Now the cricket t20 scoring system is another story...
22 Jan 07:29
1,475 cap
I would change the margin range to be within 7. This ties in with the bonus point of the actual game where there is incentive for losing teams to be within 7.

Also I captain a head to head pool which is enjoyable for small number of players (we have 8) However the UI for this has a few wrinkles that should be ironed out. The gameplay for head to head could be improved by having a playoff option to match the playoffs rather than continuing the round robin through the playoffs
22 Jan 10:05
56,315 caps
For the rugby scoring system changing it would be "Guilding the Lilly" I think. It works well. If one system needs looking at i agree with "The professor" that Cricket could do with a new approach (what that would be i have no clue!)
22 Jan 10:16
16,245 caps
Hard in cricket esp 20/20 as shorter the game more unpredictable, will be interesting to see the hundred with 20 less balls should be even closer one big over could win a game 22 Jan 12:12
38,220 caps
The cricket scoring is a real switch off. Needs to be revisited. An easy win, 6 wickets or more can be wrong due to number of balls remaining. Just doesn't sit well with me. 27 Jan 11:37
420 caps
Yes especially tthe rugby fantasy competition . Props hookers and locks do not get enough points
22 Jan 14:21
10,261 caps
Reading everyone's opinions and decided to chip in with my 5c worth. I am happy with the rugby scoring system but possibly the only suggestion I tend to agree with is that the margin point be stretched out to 7 points so as to align it with the actual game. This then affects all other sports which work similarly (NFL, AFL, Rugby League) I suppose. Not going near any other scoring systems for other sports at this time.
I must, however, mention my pet peeve - "neutral like Switzerland". It is my belief that if you are invested enough to play and compete you must support someone, something, anything...
22 Jan 21:54
38,220 caps
The reason brus choose neutral like Switzerland is because they max out the 10 pools and don't have space for the "club" team. If they choose a team, then they have to resign from it to join their 10th club. 27 Jan 11:36
9,262 caps
I reckon that the "club" pool shouldn't count as one of the 10 pools; as is done for sponsor's pools like Vodacom. I also max my pools, almost all of which are run by clubs I'm a member of. Clubs add an excellent dimension to Superbru, as every tournament counts towards the year's table. It would be great to be able to try feature on the relevant Supporters Club Medal Tables, but the 10 pool limit isn't even enough to cover my Club pools. 28 Jan 19:11
30,419 caps
Standard Win Point progression to remain the same except don’t allow any default points ever (no pick, no play rule):
• Group stages = 1 pts
• Quarter Finals (and qualifiers) = 1.5 pts
• Semi Finals (and third place playoff) = 2 pts
• Finals = 3 pts
The biggest problem for me in the current scoring system was the sharing/splitting of bonus points, eg. a Spot on pick or closest by 3 players within 5 point margin and everyone gets only 0.33 points. Next game someone gets closest pick to score (out by 20 points) but scores 1 full BP… Who is being rewarded here? Combined the current margin and bonus point scoring into one margin score system where different margins are rewarded differently.
MP (correct team wins) Same margins for every player (no splitting)
• Spot on and 1 point diff = 3
• 2 point diff to 3 point diff = 2
• 4 point diff to 5 point diff = 1
• 6 and more point diff = 0
MP (incorrect team picked) Same margins for every player (no splitting)
• 1 point diff to 3 point
23 Jan 12:45
30,419 caps
MP (incorrect team picked) Same margins for every player (no splitting)
• 1 point diff to 3 point diff = 2
• 4 point diff to 5 point diff = 1
• 6 and more point diff = 0
In the suggested scoring system one would reward only the player(s) closest to the actual score constantly.
GSP to remain as is! My 2 cents.... 23 Jan 12:51
30,419 caps
PS but for starters, an additional 0.5 for a spot on predictions will also do just fine... 23 Jan 12:54
24,702 caps
All fine re the rugby scoring, but I got a HUGE beef with the 0,5 margin point allocated to losing team picks - STUPID!! Incorrect IS incorrect & I suggest that Bru is too lenient towards Brus not too offend anybody. Anyway, whatever I think is irrelevant because the system will not be changed.
23 Jan 16:21
16,680 caps
You have to have it otherwise everyone will go for 5 or more as explained. You are afterall within 5 of the margin if you went Team A by 3 and they lost by 2. They get punished by often missing Slam Points. If you remove them then 5 or fewer becomes 'one-ended' so unfair. In football Bru's avoid 1-0 or 0-1 for the same reason, a 2-1 gives you 'Close' points for 1-0 a 3-1 & a 3-2! But 1-0 only for 2-1 or 2-0, I think 0-0 should give you something too, so even more lenient but more fair proportionally. A 1-1 counting would be helping too much though.

But I can understand your annoyance as on the face of it it seems wrong but it relates to the MARGIN and nothing else. 23 Jan 21:59
4,316 caps
Totally agree with the concern around change of behaviour when considering margin points for losing teams. I also like that BP's are shared as this encourages players to be less conservative with their picks by chasing a bonus point all to themselves.
24 Jan 20:29
17,596 caps
I was rabidly against this new web design because it meant I had to do more clicking around. I got used to it and it looks excellent with no slowing of site. I really think the points system is excellent. The margin point for loser team is important as it will give gamblers like myself the opportunity to back against the favourite with the chance that if the result is close as is expected by me, that I might at least pick up a margin point if I did pick the wrong team. You must encourage people to take chances otherwise everyone will simply bet favs. I liked the bonus point even if one is outside the 15 pts because I'm a gambler. I feel I should be rewarded for sticking my neck out when others didn't. I think bonus for right number of points should be split amongst ALL the correct pickers with a minimum of 0.25. By allowing everyone to gain a bonus point we encourage those who will pick the numbers that most often come up.
24 Jan 23:05
754 caps
System works well, however it would be good to have a clearer idea of how many points are available for knockout games at the end of the season. That info can be a bit buried.
25 Jan 07:30
13,417 caps
More points should be awarded for a drawn match... it takes courage to go for the draw but there isn't much reward at the moment...
25 Jan 22:44
26,438 caps
i agree with this point - draws in football are common and a valid prediction option. draws in rugby are rare so if SB want to encourage a wider spread of forecasts including draw forecasts you need to encourage pickers to consider the option of picking a draw. there is currently no value from considering it as a forecast option for rugby picks at present 26 Jan 13:15
1,919 cap
There should be 2+ points for the draw at least - if not more- takes a brave man to call a draw as no win points if either side win ! 29 Jan 15:06
16,680 caps
Yes Draws should be worth a LOT more. The typical odds for a draw are 25:1 or a 4% chance. So picking a winner in a coin toss game has odds of say 96%/2 or 48% but in reality the home side might edge it so say 44% away to 52% home. That equates to picking a draw for a 'randomly chosen' game as being ELEVEN times less likely than an away (44% vs 4%) win. How generous should we make 'Draw Points' then? 11 times would be too much as many games are unlikely to end in draws. So perhaps the draw is a realistic possibilty in just under half? So SIX times the Win Points seems about right. I know I'd fancy it when mid-table teams face off! 29 Jan 18:03
1,062 cap
Scrap the default point. If is unfair to get a point for no picks.
26 Jan 05:22
24,702 caps
Agree 100% or at least less defaults on offer; some tournaments have got never-ending defaults! 26 Jan 14:40
1,383 cap
I am in favour of retaining the margin points in the current format for rugby. Over the years, many close matches have been decided by a score in the last minute or even a minute or so after the hooter. You may have picked team A to win by 2 points, but a last minute penalty to team B changes the result. You have lost your win point, but have been really close with your prediction ...... you still deserve your margin point. (PS As a Stormers supporter, I have suffered much distress as they find a way to conjure last minute defeats from victories!)
26 Jan 12:30
4,520 caps
IF YOU Must change then consider the simplicity of making A >>5 point margin >> down to A >>>3 point margin ..?
26 Jan 21:01
34,962 caps
Reading all the above cogent comments I have come to the conclusion that the superbru generals need to revisit the default point scenario. Even the professor on rare occasions when unable to pick a winner has left it up to the default position meaning the favourite with the community will be the choice which of course affects bonus points. I agree it should be scrapped.... The hardcore Brus are fanatical in their approach to make their picks on time and should not be disadvantaged by tardy Brus who rely on default points when for whatever reason miss their deadlines... good for thought in superbru headquarters. ..
27 Jan 20:07
16,245 caps
I must admit I am one who makes picks on time but can understand the default idea as sometimes something's are more important than Ur superbru picks illness/family stuff or internet problems to name a few. Maybe some need to be less but don't think should be scraped all together, but must admit don't understand people who join my pools then make no picks at all. 28 Jan 12:52
52,316 caps
In AFL the margin points are awarded if you're within 15 because of the high scores. My suggestion would be sliding scale for rugby. If the winning margin is 20 or less, you have to be within 5, 21 - 35 margin you can be within 10 and over 36 margin points are awarded if you're within 15.

Also a bonus point for picking an upset would be nice. If you go against 85% of the community and it comes off, you should get rewarded for that.

I have a huge issue with net games and net sets too but that is for another discussion.
28 Jan 13:58
41,417 caps
I commend SB for calling for comment here, but I have no issues with the current scoring system in place. Instead I'm using this platform to ask you conduct the same review into motorsport scoring. The scoring system you replaced 2 years ago, was much better than the current, and I would ask you call for comment on that. If you do I'd be happy to elaborate.
29 Jan 08:34
9,966 caps
I am for scrapping the margin point when you have predicted the wrong outcome. Superbru predictions need to made with the head and not the heart. I support my teams through thick and thin but when I think they are not going to pull it through I predict the opposing team for a win. I understand some bru's will never do that so predict a 1 point margin for their own team which is cool but if you get it wrong however and the other team wins a close one you should NOT get that margin point.
Thank you to everyone involved for making Superbru so awesome and the topic of many a conversation.
1 Feb 08:23
1,390 cap
Hi, I suggest getting 3 points for a correct draw prediction. I draw is one of the most uncommon outcomes and if selected and it is a draw in my mind there should be a good incentive for selecting a draw.
2 Feb 08:09
28,550 caps
Hi, I have had one or two discussions previously regarding the scoring with Superbru HQ so here it goes.
--Under Framework you need to include LUCK versus SKILL the better players do not want to beaten by luck, or by cheating, and they want to be rewarded by the use of their skill. Using SKILL encourages good members to stay and new members to join. With regards to cheating. no picks should be viewable by anyone before the kick off I have people regularly pick the same or closely what I pick via friends in the groups or fake profiles.
1. WIN POINT - Currently - Win Point - 1pt can be 1.5pt, 2pt, or 3pts Draw Point - 1pt Lose Point - 0pts
WIN POINT - Suggested 1pt for all games whether it is a pool game or a final game, it is just as hard picking a pool game or a final game and how many time have Bru's been second or third in their pool entering the final round and purposely picking the underdog and then end up coming first (that is not SKILL, SKILL was the person le
4 Feb 01:51
28,550 caps
Under 1. WIN POINT I forgot to add Suggested Draw point to be more than 1pt in order to compensate for the higher risk involved, not many experienced Brus go for a draw unless they are way ahead in points for the group. (Superbru should do a poll (actually I will enter it on your facebook page)
4 Feb 01:58
6,631 caps
I think the current system is pretty fair. If you predict a close game, you are rewarded, if you go for a cricket score, you might get nothing. However, the polar opposite can occur when you feel a match will be tight , it's not and you scoop some points for a strong prediction with a points margin. I've won by playing it safe, I've also lost by playing it safe. Win some, lose some. Keep up the good work Superbru!
4 Feb 20:43
28,550 caps
Juddy so you are ok if you miss picking the game by 1 point and I miss by 5 points we get the same points.....
5 Feb 01:42
28,550 caps
Can Superbru mgmt please investigate why in regards to Fantasy rugby transfers in Six Nations you have 6 Teams with (3 matches and 4 Transfers allowed per round) and in Super 15 you have 15 Teams with (7 matches and still only 4 Transfers per round) ?? You guys obviously don't play the game for this to be the case...….
6 Feb 13:58
25 caps
Why not add a half point bonus for predicting the correct margin? People should be rewarded for getting it exactly right .
18 Feb 07:12