For a golden 10 weeks, New Zealand had something good going with Super Rugby Aotearoa. It was tribal, intense, meaningful and gripping.
But it was also totally unsustainable. The players were starting to break towards the end and with just five teams, there was always a sense that it had to be a one-off – a special arrangement for a special year.
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And then of course there was the money. There is always the money and questions about how much would flow with just five teams, playing each other again and again.
So the challenge for New Zealand Rugby was to find a way to keep the best of Super Rugby Aotearoa and yet somehow expand it, maybe in 2021 if Covid restrictions allowed, but definitely by 2022.
The tribalism was essential. The need for the best to be playing the best was another must have. The teams involved had to have authenticity. They needed history, pride, meaning and credibility.
Everyone had seen Super Rugby descend to farce, bordering on tragedy, as a result of making up new teams every other year and plonking them into the competition.
They brought nothing. No intensity, no rivalry no ability to present as genuine contenders and Super Rugby Aotearoa was a break from stupidity and greed.
It was a triumph for integrity, common sense and old-school values and finally New Zealand had the foundation to build in 2021 and beyond, the sort of Super Rugby competition we have all craved.
But as things stand now, that dream is dead unless pride can be buried, apologies made and conversations ignited with Australia.
For now, stupidity has again prevailed and rather than build the sort of competition we all want, NZR intends to return us to a place we thought we'd left behind.
If Super Rugby Aotearoa finds a home for a Western Australian mining magnate to park a play-thing rugby team in New Zealand and yet not include the Waratahs or Brumbies, then it's doomed.
Clearly, if that happens, NZR learned nothing during Super Rugby Aotearoa as quite madly, having broken free from the dud idea factory that is Sanzaar, the national body has hatched a worse idea than any that came in the 25 years of marriage to their Southern Hemisphere partners.
They have kicked out the old dud teams only to flirt with a host of new dud teams and burden us again with players no one knows or really ever needs to know.
And it really does seem that NZR is justifying this on the basis that they recognise this is a terrible idea, but it's their terrible idea, rather than Sanzaar's, so therefore it's okay.
How this could have gone so badly awry is almost incomprehensible. The pathway to a better future didn't so much have Hansel and Gretel crumbs on it to show the way, but floodlights and luminous bricks.
No one in the executive should have been confused about the best way to expand the competition and continue to make it engaging and commercially successful.
The Moana Pasifika bid should have been given the green-light to play in a six-team 2021 competition. There is a faint hope that could still happen with NZR promising to exhaust the prospect in the next few weeks.
It should have been now, though, not just because six teams makes better practical sense next year, but because it's the right thing to do.
Almost 40 per cent of all New Zealand's Super Rugby players identify as Pasifika and the sooner Samoa, Tonga and Fiji can take control of their own assets, govern their own destiny and create their own pathways to the test arena the quicker New Zealand can alleviate some of the guilt it must have accrued over the years in helping themselves to all of that.
NZR say a Pasifika team will be included in 2022, but the fact they haven't been willing to make it happen in 2021 and have now pitted two bids against each other, opens the prospect of that being yet one more false promise.
The only ray of hope is that NZR are so haphazard at the moment, so devoid of conviction and direction that everything they say now could be ripped up and reworked.
They seem to work on whims and so maybe they will stumble upon the right plan for 2022 which is to have a Super 12 in place with five teams from New Zealand, five from Australia, Moana Pasifika and Fiji.
Done. Easy. That right there would have credibility, integrity and intensity.
That would bring the sort of quality Super Rugby needs, put bums on seats and get broadcasters excited.
That would have retained the essence of Super Rugby Aotearoa but expanded it to the point of commercial sustainability.