Tick, tock goes the clock and yet Sanzaar seems oblivious to its relentless surge as plans to cut next year's competition to 15 teams continue to be vague.

Hope has to be fading it's actually going to happen. Would anyone feel confident saying, for certain, that next year Super Rugby will have 15 and not 18 teams?

Probably not - and the longer this state of uncertainty remains, the more it feels like this might have been the plan all along.

Or at least, this may have been the Australian Rugby Union's plan " to progress in such a bumbling, haphazard way as to run the clock down on any other option being possible but to retain the status quo.

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That's not as crazy as it sounds. The Australians, so the story goes, were caught out a few months ago when the Sanzaar partners met in London to determine what should happen with Super Rugby next year.

The Australians knew that the option of cutting three teams was gathering support, but they thought there was no way on earth the South Africans would be willing to do their bit as per the proposal and be the ones to take the brunt and drop two.

When the South Africans agreed, the Australians were suddenly reeling because they had not done the groundwork to assess whether they could fulfil their part of the bargain and cut one team.

They had no idea what that process would look like nor which team would be on the chopping block.

Making their life harder was the vocal campaign being run by the Australian Rugby Players' Association.

Suddenly, the Australians were in a bit of strife. They left London with their Sanzaar partners under the impression Australia was committed to change and yet they weren't. What to do?

Well, perhaps they have been quite smart. In handling things as badly as they have, they have created chaos that is most likely months away from abating.

The Rebels are likely to take legal action if they are the team to be cut and the Western Force will most likely go down the same route. The Australian Rugby Union might raise the white flag and say it was defeated by legal machinery.

This is akin to continually collapsing scrums in the last minutes of a game. Given the expertise the Wallabies have in this area, it should perhaps be little surprise that the Australian executive are showing equal aptitude.

To everyone else they will appear grossly incompetent but given their track record and the fact most Australians appear to have such low expectations of them, that hardly seems a disastrous outcome.

They were bumbling no-hopers when all this started and they will be bumbling no-hopers when it all finishes " but the important thing will be that Australia still has five teams in Super Rugby.