The principle of cause and effect is making for fascinating but alarming viewing in Super Rugby. The impact of weak and ultimately flawed leadership by Sanzaar has had the effect of creating an information vacuum that is currently being filled by speculation, rumour, half truths and wild guesses.

The effect of this uncertainty has perhaps not been fully realised yet, but could be, when a host of players in Australia, South Africa and possibly even New Zealand decide in the next month or so that they will give up on Super Rugby and head offshore later this year.

If that happens, the final effect will be to further diminish the quality and value of a competition whose credibility and reputation is already wobbling like a freshly set jelly in an earthquake.

And before all this is written off as a stretch on reality, the noises coming out of Australia are all too authentic to be dismissed. The arithmetic isn't overly challenging: there are currently five teams in Australia and by next year, there could be four. Around 20 per cent of the workforce could be unemployed.


The thing is, though, no one knows where the axe is going to fall and there is a general nervousness clinging to the Force, Rebels and Brumbies who are all possible contenders to be chopped.

Again, the arithmetic isn't hard on this - a decision that is ultimately going to directly impact 20 per cent of the workforce is currently impacting 60 per cent of the workforce.

Players at three clubs are going to be thinking about jumping ship - wary that if they stay in Australia hoping for the best, they might find themselves unemployed alongside 35 or so of their teammates and European and Japanese clubs already having committed their budgets.

New Zealand doesn't have the spectre of reduction hanging over it, but still, the not knowing what is going to happen next year hardly helps in the never-ending battle to retain players.

For some players in New Zealand it will make a difference whether they are playing eight local derby games next year or just six. It will matter whether they feel they are going to have a fair crack at the playoffs or be left in a state of bewilderment as to why two half-baked teams from South Africa are able to claim home quarterfinals after knocking over the Sunwolves, Cheetahs and Kings.

Having a clear idea about what the future looks like is a basic expectation for players whose ability to pay their mortgage is linked to their contractual status. It's a must-know for sponsors, fans and broadcasters, too but alas, Sanzaar, in its infinite wisdom clearly disagreed.

After promising full disclosure following an executive meeting in London last week that decided the structure of the 2018 competition, Sanzaar have maintained a dedicated radio silence.

Their justification for that is that the plans they proposed in London have to be ratified by each nation's stakeholders.

This is where their leadership has been flawed and weak. Why wasn't each member union told to come to the UK with a definitive plan on which teams they would cut if it came down to it?

Reduction was always going to be a probable outcome and the dirty work could have been done beforehand and an announcement - one containing full details - could have been made immediately after agreement was reached in London.

Cause and effect would have been better contained. Instead, the situation is unsettling and summed up well with Dean Mumm, the Wallaby loose forward who is the president of the Australian Rugby Players' Association.

"I think this period of limbo is frustrating," He said. "It would be nice to know what's going on and to get some communication about that.I think everyone would perhaps be quite keen on that."