Man, hasn't Super Rugby taken a beating lately? So many commentators have crept out of the woods to stick the boot in the corpse of the competition that, at times, you wondered if it was necessary to remind them about social distancing.
To be fair, critics (and fans) have blasted the format for years and Super Rugby's woeful error of expansion ahead of common sense will make an intriguing case study in future sports management degree courses.
While Covid-19 has seen off Super Rugby, it also had underlying health issues which saw it on a respirator in recent seasons, with the lack of spectators at grounds almost a metaphor for people not wanting to catch whatever it was suffering from.
But it is good to see a few ideas surfacing too – not just endless spitting on Super Rugby's grave. Phil Gifford's recent column quoted reliable rugby sources that the five existing Super Rugby franchises would join forces with two more from New Zealand and a Pasifika team, maybe based in Suva. Those eight could be boosted to 12 if the Australian franchises are in decent enough health.
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Do we really have the depth for two more professional franchises here? Where does the money come from? Will the smaller broadcast dosh be enough if South African and Japan are not involved? How competitive will the Aussies be?
In the short-term, everyone agrees we need to return to domestic roots. But that's only half a solution, really. What about beyond 2021?
What happens to South Africa, Japan and Argentina? In the longer term, can we really afford to do without the vital broadcast loot South Africa's 55 million population brings? And what about the Pacific Islands? This rugby re-think is an ideal chance to bring them into calculations even though they bring little in the way of broadcast revenue.
Long term, we must surely attempt to involve South Africa and the burgeoning new market of Japan. But how to accommodate all these teams without blowing out costs and getting round the problem of time zones which mean much of the play (especially in South Africa) occurs when many people are asleep?
Our rugby overlords probably have to look to American football and the hugely successful NFL. That whole, truly super competition, involving 32 teams across different time zones in the US and leading to Super Bowl, takes place in just 17 weeks.
That's what Super Rugby has to do too – plus it needs to limit the damage time zones cause, while retaining South Africa and Japan.
One option apparently being discussed is a four-week finals format involving teams qualifying from their respective domestic competitions for a European Heineken Cup-style champions format.
Now we're talking. Here's how such a competition might shape up, money permitting: In domestic round-robins in each country, New Zealand's five franchises, Australia and South Africa's four each, would play home and away to find the top two teams from each country to advance to the playoffs. The same thing would happen in Argentina and Japan where the latter's rugby imports would play a big part in finding their top two. Fijian, Samoan and Tongan teams would do the same (they already have two teams each in the annual Pacific Rugby Cup).
That's preferable, surely, to a blended Pasifika team – a strange beast, neither one thing nor the other, and which has failed to gain public following in previous attempts.
The key would be a centralised champions cup or knockout playoffs to reduce travel costs. Play the first year in Australia (they need the most help at present), maybe South Africa next, then New Zealand, Japan and so on. Maybe the host pays a fee.
So, basing themselves in Australia for the duration of the knockout playoffs would be 16 teams - two each from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.
The first nine weeks of the competition would be domestic derbies with All Blacks and Springboks playing (less those contracted to appear for Japanese teams, for example) and at least one bye week. The knockout playoffs would take five weeks in Australia, including one bye week.
That is less than the NFL's 17-week spread. The old Super Rugby competition started in January and was due to end this year on June 20. A 14-week spread (or thereabouts) means it could start in March and finish well ahead of the June internationals (if such things exist by then).
Big squads would be needed for this pressure-cooker itinerary and to allow rotation but the travel costs inherent in the old Super Rugby format would be greatly reduced, helping to counterbalance smaller TV cheques.
There may be myriad faults in the practicability of the above - but at least it's a way a new competition might adopt "less is more" while embracing the Pacific Islands and growth markets. That might please World Rugby and shake loose a few more dollars.
And, let's face it, rugby has to do something significant or we'll all be out there kicking its corpse too.