Congrats to the Crusaders. Not only for knocking off their title drought, but also saving Sanzaar's blushes.
At the risk of riling a passionate rugby nation, the reality is a Lions victory would have given rise to everything that is broken with Super Rugby.
The intention here is not to be antagonistic. Merely point out this competition's on-going flaws.
No doubt the Lions are a quality team. Their accession from also-rans to repeat contender has been brilliant for South African rugby, not only in promoting a host of players to the Springboks but cultivating a captivating style for their countrymen to follow. Johan Ackermann deserves immense credit for being brave and bold in this regard. Long may it continue after his departure.
It must also be said the situation is not the Lions' doing. Like anyone they simply made the most of the hand they were dealt.
But the crux of the issue is this: how can any unbiased observer suggest the Lions deserved such a massive leg up with home advantage throughout the playoffs when they not once had to play a New Zealand team during the round robin stage? Not once.
Just ask the Australians, who collectively went 0-26 this season, how tough and taxing Kiwi teams are.
In the context of this competition, the route the Lions had is the equivalent of giving a boxer a three-round lead before the opening bell or sending a horse out the gates early. That jockey is grinning from ear-to-ear.
This year Ackermann's gamble to take a second-string side to Argentina, and protect the core of his squad from their one major journey, paid off.
Along with the Lions, four of the five New Zealand teams have set Super Rugby's benchmark in recent times. By not having to face any of those Kiwi teams, and perhaps more importantly not making the long-haul trek to these shores, the Lions were given a major advantage. That much indisputable.
In sport all we want is a fair contest. Credibility depends on it.
Super Rugby as it stands, fair and equitable? Sanzaar is having a laugh. In a conversation with one highly-regarded South African coach just prior to the final he lamented exactly this.
The Lions were undoubtedly the best team in South Africa, but would they have finished top after a trip to New Zealand?
The inescapable sense is a Lions victory in the final would not have truly reflected this year's best team. If you can't see that, you can surely admit the format and draw leaves the question open. That alone is damaging.
Sure the Lions took out the Hurricanes with a courageous second half comeback in the semifinal, and they showed similar tenacity to battle back with 14 men against the Crusaders. But their path to get there was laid with rose petals while the Kiwi teams were forced to brush through thorns.
As it was the Crusaders had everything stacked against them. Travel. Altitude. Crowd. Everything.
After 14 straight wins they only ceded top spot with a final-round loss to the Hurricanes. It was their sixth local derby, and came on the back of their swag of All Blacks being beaten and battered during the torrid British and Irish Lions series.
Harnessing the character of a city that has endured so much pain, the Crusaders defied it all.
For that reason alone the hat must be tipped to one of the most successful sporting franchises. The only team to win a championship on foreign soil, they have now done it twice, and their eighth title must go down as one of the best.
Sanzaar powerbrokers should be thankful. The focus now falls on a team of worthy champions who were forced to take the hard road and still emerged on top.
The Crusaders triumph does not fix Super Rugby's widespread issues. But it is the right result.