Back in 2004 there was a loose thread dangling from Southern Hemisphere rugby, so Sanzaar pulled it.
They couldn't resist and 16 years on that one decision to give Australia and South Africa their long-held desire for more Super Rugby teams, has seen the very fabric of the game south of the Equator unravel to the point where there will be nothing but a tattered mess in a few years.
After pulling that thread and expanding in 2006, Sanzaar lost the plot and made compounding bad decisions to keep growing, all driven by the mistaken belief that more teams would lead to more money.
They looked everywhere for gold, except the places such as Fiji and Samoa where it actually was, and their greed and self-interest, combined with their failure to commit to a genuinely autonomous management regime has led South Africa into the open arms of the Six Nations.
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Some would say this has left Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship on the brink of collapse. But it's not on the brink. It's in mid-air now, having stepped into the void and those who believe in miracles can convince themselves there is some way back to firm ground, but the realists can see that it is inevitable that the Sanzaar alliance will shortly be obliterated.
South Africa rugby officials have obviously decided they don't want to be around when the whole thing goes splat.
That they are supposedly now in advanced talks with the Six Nations to create the Seven Nations in 2024, suggests they have made their minds up that Super Rugby has gone past the point of being saved.
They want out now while they can negotiate from a position of strength and enter a new alliance on their terms.
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They also seemingly have little choice but to commit now as the Six Nations will shortly begin talks about a new broadcast contract.
They can see that Super Rugby is going to collapse next year when the Australians turn up almost penniless as a consequence of failing to negotiate a sustainable TV deal.
That much seems almost certain now. For the last five years the Australians have been living off a scarcely believable broadcast deal worth close to $60m a year.
It will take that miracle for a similar deal to be re-negotiated given that Foxtel have walked away from talks leaving Rugby Australia to see if they can strong-arm new players into stumping up half the Gross Domestic Product of Guatemala to own the rights to competitions in which the Australian sides are serially destroyed by the Kiwis and the Wallabies are winning one in every four tests.
The South Africans are presumably worried that Australia is going to be cap in hand next year, looking to its Sanzaar partners to help them out financially.
That's a strong push factor, as it's already hideously expensive for South African teams to be in South Africa – having to traipse between New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Argentina.
The money drains out but so too does much of the joy and vitality of the athletes – all those hours on planes, hotel beds and weird rituals as they try to constantly re-adjust body clocks.
And then there are compelling pull factors. South Africa already has two sides – the Cheetahs and Kings – playing in European competition alongside the Welsh, Irish, Scots and Italians.
There is increasing talk, now that so much domestic rugby is owned or partly owned by the deep-pocketed CVC Capital, of a UK-league being formed and the club game in Europe could be on the verge of a dramatic restructuring that makes perfect sense for South Africa to be part of.
Not that they need another reason to go, but they do have one: which is that half the Springboks World Cup squad is playing in the UK or France already. And the exodus of South Africans to Europe is not going to stop while the Rand sits at its current level and the economy continues to crunch away in first gear.
The only regret South Africa will have if they indeed jump ship is that they will lose regular contact with the All Blacks.
Tests against their old foe remain the most valued asset of all but who knows, maybe this new landscape could see a return to the old days of a classic tour as the broadcast value of a three-test series between the All Blacks and Springboks would be extraordinary.