Picture it: The Crusaders squads of yesteryear that had one or two non-starting All Blacks, and test players on the bench for fun, are found to have breached the salary cap. Not once. Not twice. Three seasons in a row.
Docked 35 competition points and fined $10.4 (NZD) million they are then unable to shed players and get under the cap for a fourth successive season. They are, therefore, docked a further 35 points, and relegated from the competition.
Their All Blacks, all of whom have relegation contract clauses, face the choice of either scattering to rival top flight clubs or playing in a second-rate league where they may have salaries slashed and potentially slip off the national radar.
It's madness to even contemplate such a scenario in New Zealand but this sorry saga, one of the biggest downfalls and cheating scandals to rock sport, is exactly the situation engulfing English and European rugby.
Saracens are the Crusaders of English rugby. They've won five Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups since 2010-11.
Two of those domestic titles came in the timeframe they breached the cap, while three European successes all came within the past four seasons.
Since news of these repeated salary cap breaches broke, the legitimacy of those titles has rightly been questioned by other leading clubs to the point financial compensation has been demanded.
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How Saracens ever thought it was above board to establish co-investments with England stars Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, and make image-rights payments to offshore accounts is absurd.
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This is how they kept their superstar squad together while all others could not.
The English salary cap is set at £7 million, excluding two marquee players per-team.
To get under that figure this season Saracens had to strip a reported £2 million from their squad – a near impossible task when those who have already featured this season counting on the books. Unable to do so, they accepted a punishment of automatic relegation to the second-tier Championship, a league featuring the likes of Jersey and the Cornish Pirates.
It is quite the unprecedented fall from grace.
In recent days Saracens executives took the bizarre step of phoning other Premiership clubs offering to offload players, but with little room under their caps or interest in helping ease the burden, this avenue failed.
The extraordinary circumstances of further punishment and automatic relegation will have far-reaching consequences for the England team, too.
Eddie Jones names his Six Nations squad on Monday and it is certain to contain at least eight Saracens starters who featured at the recent World Cup in Japan where England lost the final to the Springboks after knocking out the All Blacks.
What state of mind will those players now be in?
Saracens have formed the backbone of England's rise from the rugby ashes following their failure to get beyond the pool stages of their home 2015 World Cup.
In quite the flip of script, this scandal now threatens to overshadow and destabilise England's 2020 campaign, starting with the Six Nations.
How could it not prove a major distraction?
All Saracens players are being forced to consider their futures and ponder moves away from the embattled, embarrassed club. That involves families moving homes, children shifting schools. Other jobs at the club are also likely to be dissolved.
This level of exposure has never been seen before. Many of Saracens leading players don't have agents and with many rival clubs unable to afford them they could be ripe for foreign clubs to pounce.
From a European rugby perspective, Saracens are making a mockery of that elite competition too, having not been punished at all in this space while continuing to compete with an effectively non-compliant squad.
The defending champions somehow remain in contention for European silverware – if they defeat French giants Racing 92 in London this weekend they will progress to the quarterfinals.
If they then push on to win the Champions Cup – far from inconceivable with their squad – while being relegated from the Premiership, the ridiculous scenario is they would not be allowed to compete in Europe for the next two years.
Initial threats of appeals and denials have long faded with chairman Nigel Wray, the architect of backdoor payments to leading players, now removed from the club.
All that remains now, it seems, is the systematic dismantling of European rugby's once peerless club.