As New Zealand's Super Rugby players dig deep into themselves to find the energy and resolve to get through the next few weeks, they won't be pleased to hear that their executive brethren failed to make any progress last week about creating a new future for the competition.

It probably won't come as any surprise that the Sanzaar executive met in Singapore and didn't agree on any preferred way to revamp Super Rugby.

No surprise because endless discussions that go nowhere has been par for the course in Super Rugby history.

No surprise, because confidence in the people charged with running the competition is not high after years of bickering, squabbling, procrastinating and poor decision-making.


But there is disappointment on several levels, the most pressing being that Super Rugby can't afford another prolonged period of uncertainty.

There has to be a realisation among the administrative fraternity that players and fans need certainty about where this competition is heading longer term.

Players especially, as the exodus from South Africa shows no signs of abating. They have seen in excess of 400 players leave for Europe and Japan in the last few years and there are daily reports of more being targeted by clubs in France and England.

If there was a particularly telling indictment of where things stand, it came in the last few weeks when Springboks star Duane Vermeulen opted to sign with Japanese club Kubota Spears rather than take on offer from the Stormers.

The point which is apparently being missed in the executive world is that players are reluctant to make a commitment to Super Rugby without knowing how it will be structured in 2020.

The longer there is a delay, the more likely it is that other players will opt to move elsewhere, which in turn will make it an even harder battle to win back fans and restore credibility.

The last thing Super Rugby needs is to be stuck in this holding pattern.

The lessons of failing to act fast and decisively should have been learned from the events of last year.

A decision was reached in early March to cut the competition from 18 teams to 15 for 2018 and while the South Africans handled that process quickly and effectively, the Australians ripped themselves apart for nearly eight months trying to determine which team to axe.

The impact on rugby was huge. Australian teams didn't win a single game against New Zealand opposition and an already challenged fan base, shrunk further with stadium attendances and broadcast viewing audiences reaching alarmingly low levels.

That the need to cut teams came about in the first place was another result of executive hubris. There was widespread criticism of the decision to expand the competition to 18 teams split into four conferences in 2016.

The format was clunky and lacking in integrity and the new teams, particularly the Sunwolves from Japan, appeared to have been given entry based exclusively on their potential economic offering rather than their playing ability.

By early 2017 it was apparent Super Rugby was failing everyone – players, fans and accountants and hence the decision was made to revert to the old format of 15 teams in three conferences this year.

But this 15-team format is only supposed to be a temporary solution while a better, longer-term future is mapped out.

The main reason it is a short-term fix is that it is taking too much out of the players.

The home and away local derbies have an intensity that is not sustainable – particularly in New Zealand where games often come close to replicating tests such is their ferocity.

No one loves the current competition set-up and no one loves the lack of vision and clarity about the future.

Players from all countries are putting their bodies on the line this week and for some, the next three.

They have every right to expect their respective employers will be making the same level of commitment to come up with solutions to how Super Rugby can be reconfigured to suit the stakeholders that matter.