New Zealand Rugby's Rubik's Cube in advocating to align with US technology investment giants Silver Lake is far from resolved.
Just as the complex puzzle has many sides and faces so, too, does the murky world of private equity.
Behind the scenes NZ Rugby's sales pitch to its provincial unions, Super Rugby franchises, Players' Association and former All Blacks players and coaches has been ongoing for months now; the $465 million offer for 15 per cent of the national body's commercial rights the best part of two years in the making.
The latest twists, ahead of a pivotal board meeting vote by provincial unions next month, come in the form of an independent PWC report, which after extensive research and consultation backs the deal, and continued concerns and opposition from New Zealand's influential Players' Association that threatens to scupper the financial windfall.
On the face of it, Silver Lake's offer appears too good to ignore.
Rugby in this country is in trouble. Participation rates among male teenagers have been falling off a cliff for years. Safety concerns around concussion and serious injury are more prevalent than ever. The grassroots game is in crisis, with teams and clubs ceasing to exist year on year. Engagement, both in attendance and viewership, reflects an aging, dwindling fan base.
From a funding perspective all levels of the game have their hands out, and the financial model is broken.
Private equity looms as the quick-fix solution on the horizon.
A sudden influx will help tackle many of the aforementioned problems and more – until the tap runs dry.
The $465 million offer that comes from a $3.1 billion valuation sparks stars-in-their-eyes responses, particularly from cash-strapped provincial unions and ailing clubs.
Yet it's not difficult for that figure to disappear in the next three-to-five years - $50 million alone has been assigned to capitalise CommercialCo, the separate entity charged with maximising NZ Rugby's commercial rights that will have around 41 full-time employees, while $40m will be immediately injected into the local game in what one source described as a "lolly scramble".
But what happens when the Silver Lake money runs out? Where does New Zealand Rugby go next?
Will Silver Lake deliver on its promise to captivate, and monetise, millions of untapped fans?
What if the relationship doesn't work as hoped? Once a stake, no matter how small, is sold, there's no going back.
The thing about private equity purchasing minority stakes in global rugby competitions and unions is no one knows whether it will be good, bad or somewhere in-between.
It's too early to predict the end game to this Pandora's box.
It's that fear of the unknown that drives apprehension and opposition.
While Silver Lake bids to purchase a stake between 10 and 15 per cent, their influence will inevitably stretch beyond those numbers.
As Murray Bolton, the rich-lister and former 40 per cent shareholder in the Blues said of Silver Lake in an interview with the Herald this week: "They're not passive".
Private equity companies can be charming. They come with slick operations, global networks and expertise. Silver Lake has a proven track record in supercharging sports, helping build the UFC, Manchester City, New York Knicks and Rangers into the behemoths they are today.
New Zealand rugby's promotion of their athletes and game marketing is, meanwhile, stuck in the 1980s. It would clearly benefit from being hauled into the modern age.
For all the touted benefits, Silver Lake's purpose cannot be blurred. Private equity intends to make money, and that comes with entering uncharted waters.
NZ Rugby executives know the game in this country has reached tipping point. As private money, through CVC Capital Partners, filters through the Northern Hemisphere game and other unions in the south prepare to follow the promised pot of gold, the prospect of being left behind is real.
The Covid-19 pandemic changed the face of global recruitment over the past year – but that won't last. As the situation gradually improves with the vaccine roll-out and borders begin to open, European and Japanese clubs will soon target leading All Blacks en masse again.
New Zealand will always be greatly disadvantaged by its geographical location and population size. The storied pipeline has long underpinned the All Blacks' success and, therefore, appeal.
Yet there are clear signs the production line is eroding, with depth scarce in many key positions.
With a revenue glass ceiling reached, raising capital is non-negotiable. There is no hint of theatrics suggesting rugby's future in New Zealand depends on swiftly chasing this path.
Don't act now from a private equity perspective and NZ Rugby risks its value dropping, the window closing, leading players flooding out the gate and the grassroots becoming further crippled.
The Players' Association is right to evoke robust private and public debate. This is the biggest decision since the game turned professional, after all.
Yet other unions, the likes of England and Australia, watch on perplexed at the unrivalled power the Players' Association wields here in potentially blocking the Silver Lake deal.
Whether the goalposts shift forever may sit in the players' hands, leaving the Rubik's Cube resembling a patchwork quilt.