The All Blacks' stance on Sevu Reece has gone from questionable to disastrous with Steve Hansen's unfortunate radio interview over the weekend.
A silver lining to the dark cloud over this All Black World Cup campaign, because of Reece's selection in the first 2019 squad, is the spotlight it has brought on domestic violence.
But the inadvertent good stuff ends there.
And coach Hansen's disingenuous statement that domestic violence is "not just restricted to males assaulting women" is an insult to the intelligence.
"Women assault males too. It's not a gender thing, it's a New Zealand problem," Hansen told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport.
Talk about avoiding the real issue, although the interview was incredibly revealing about how people within the rugby establishment may think.
In sporting parlance, Hansen had a shocker. Domestic violence is very much a gender thing.
I still can't believe he said what he did.
This was a moment requiring empathy, not a mad sermon.
We all know that violence occurs in many forms. We're not stupid.
But many, many, many more women are living in fear because of domestic violence, trapped and terrified. Many of those women who have escaped must deal with the physical, psychological and financial after-effects.
Do we even need to state this? Women are generally less violent.
And when powerful people like the All Blacks coach trivialise the situation, the victims feel even more powerless; more threatened.
Hansen may have blurted out an ill-conceived remark. Interviews can go like that.
But to pull out a blatantly ridiculous gender equality card at a time like this is an appalling misjudgment.
Much of Hansen's interview concentrated on what rugby was doing to help Sevu Reece. What we really need to hear is how rugby is going to stand with victims.
Rugby being what it is, I doubt any All Blacks will break rank and offer a different view.
There will be players in that squad, or maybe their wives, partners and loved ones, who will be staggered by what Hansen came up with. His views can't be taken as truly representative, but they do reflect a national administration which comes across as unenlightened.
Reece, whose career was immediately salvaged by the champion Crusaders, is certainly getting the sort of support denied to many women who get bashed by their partners.
Reece, for those who missed it, admitted assaulting his partner in public about a year ago, with the woman receiving facial and other injuries. Reece was discharged without conviction. Rugby stood him down from one provincial game.
In this case a powerful footballer has assaulted a woman, which makes Hansen's claim even worse because men's physical strength is a massive factor.
If Hansen wants to speak to the issue, he needs to stand up for women, not diminish the dreadful situation many find themselves in.
The bottom line seems to be this: it's all about poor Sevu Reece, and winning the World Cup of course.
The All Blacks should have taken a stand, no matter what the court said, and made it clear that for such an abhorrent assault, there are consequences which must be suffered before rehabilitation takes place.
Reece's partner is said to have forgiven him, and I wish her all the best. But there are wider issues than simply her attitude to this one assault.
The All Blacks should have told the world that big strong men are prepared to use their muscle for good.
Come November, the All Blacks may be holding the World Cup aloft, and Sevu Reece hailed as one of their heroes.
For some victims of domestic abuse and their advocates, the idea of a nation saluting a man who has effectively escaped any punishment for a domestic assault will only increase their pain and anger.
And the majority of those victims are women.