Yet again, the South Pacific Island nations, already cowering and clutching their collective proverbial stomachs in agony, have been left feeling queasy.

That's because the spectre of Sanzaar, an acronym for South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby, again looms over the island nations threatening to ram its steel-capped boot into their teeth if they so much as make a whimper about how bad their lot is.

Yank the half-slip off Sanzaar and the naked truth is it's an exclusive boys' club which will let outsiders enter its privileged domain only on its terms.

For the record, it was born in 1996 as Sanzar, a marriage of the South Africa, New Zealand and Australia unions.

Advertisement

It came on the heels of rugby union striding into the world of professionalism but wary of the threat of Australia's Super League, a new rugby league competition, wooing players with substantial salaries.

In a nutshell, Kerry Packer, the Australian magnate who had revolutionised professional cricket, had similar global visions of rugby union but the South African body read the riot act on its players and the majority of All Blacks and Wallabies turned their backs on the failed Packer proposal.

However, Sanzar mutated to Sanzaar, which meets annually where chief executives of its member unions preside to operate the Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship competitions, when Argentina was granted full membership in 2016.

In many respects, Sanzaar's gestation period and breech-baby conditions suggest some midwifery may have prevented the trauma that manifests itself as paranoia more than two decades later.

Put bluntly, dressing up a code in another costume doesn't disguise what has become the biggest sporting shame in the southern hemisphere.

Venture past New Zealand and Australia's quintessential rugby picket-fence front lawn and you'll find a weed-ridden, unkempt backyard — that is, South Pacific countries — desperately needing attention.

If a Sydney Morning Herald report is accurate in surmising that Fiji's submission to enter a team in Super Rugby then a Pacific Island brainchild will be shoved back into the incubator because of parental neglect.

Sanzaar, the newspaper reports, has upped its financial demands after a June submission to join the exclusive club in the vicinity of somewhere between $15 million and $18.5m.

From outside, it seems like a game of blind poker with an endless limit on how much the card players can raise.

Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos (foreground) expresses hollow sentiments in raising doubts on Fiji and other Pacific Island nations' impending inclusion into Super Rugby. Photo/NZME
Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos (foreground) expresses hollow sentiments in raising doubts on Fiji and other Pacific Island nations' impending inclusion into Super Rugby. Photo/NZME

It makes a mockery of Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos' sentiments in Auckland when he told the New Zealand Herald: "The Pacific Islands have been discussed at length.

"We just cannot ignore that from a high-performance perspective. They tick every box and, yes, very much so.

"They are part of the thinking going forward. We have got to get the Pacific Islands included into the structure. How or what it will look like, I can't say right now. But we know there is quality there. They are almost set up and ready to go and get in there and play. Where do you geographically locate them and how do you fund it?" Marinos said.

Hollow sentiments indeed. Talk is fast becoming cheap for Islanders who, apparently, are ticking all the boxes.

Well, to be honest, they don't tick every box — the money box. It's no secret Pacific Island nations are poor fiscal managers but how long will Sanzaar play that card?

Raising the countries' hopes by inviting them to the table is tantamount to allowing a poker player to gamble, knowing he will leave his family penniless the second opponents start raising the stakes around the table.

It's capital thuggery and there ought to be a law against such malpractice.

Marinos' geographical assertion defies belief. How did Sanzaar manage to come into existence in such a relatively short time when feeling threatened?

How are the Pumas, renowned primarily for their upper-body strength, mixing it with the big boys now within two years of acceptance?

Sanzaar is mindful the Argentines have been gravitating to lucrative European competitions for decades, not to mention South Africans, New Zealanders and Aussies.

How are Japan in the big rugby union mix when they are devoid of raw talent and perennially pilfer foreigners, including Islanders, to stay in the equation?

A prudent solution is Japan economic clout to manage Fiji, if not a Pacific Island team.

Any song and dance about development and welfare programmes is patronising and a red herring for a part of the world teeming with talent. They need to showcase skills, not be tampered with to fit a money template.

Where does the International Rugby Board sit in all of this?

Here's hoping Richard Fale, whose consortium failed to buy the Auckland-based NZ Warriors, will come to the rescue of Pacific Island nations in a bid to have Super Rugby presence. Photo/NZME
Here's hoping Richard Fale, whose consortium failed to buy the Auckland-based NZ Warriors, will come to the rescue of Pacific Island nations in a bid to have Super Rugby presence. Photo/NZME

Rugby league is equally guilty of this although the current tri-nation competition goes a wee way to bridge the gulf.

Tonga are here but Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea are conspicuous in their absence.

Didn't Fiji also embarrass the Kiwis in the Rugby League World Cup here last year?

For what it's worth, you can't buy the loyal red army support Tonga enjoy — just ask the Kiwis.

I could go on about netball but you, no doubt, get the drift about small fish out-growing claustrophobic ponds.

Here's hoping a Hawaiian-based consortium, which Richard Fale unsuccessfully led in attempting to buy the Warriors earlier this year, will come to the rescue of Fiji, if not all the Island nations.