Maybe it won't be quite the hammer blow some expect if Southern Hemisphere rugby loses the Springboks (and maybe their Super Rugby sides) to the north.
Tradition says the Boks moving north will be a tragic loss, damaging to the All Blacks; logic is less definitive. It may actually restore some of the shine to the rivalry many New Zealanders – perhaps those of a certain age – regard as our greatest.
Some time ago, when I was involved with Sean Fitzpatrick's column for the Herald on Sunday, the former All Blacks skipper was big on this point: less is more. If the Boks move north, the keen anticipation of playing them once in a blue moon as opposed to every new moon will rise again.
The near 70 years between the All Blacks' 1928 tour (they drew the series 2-2) and 1996 was a time of huge expectation and frustration for New Zealand rugby fans. They admired the size, strength and never-say-die grit of the Boks but hated seeing the All Blacks unable to win a series there.
Anticipation reached dizzying levels as fans watched the 1949, 1960, 1970 and 1976 All Black touring teams fall – sometimes by better sides, sometimes by what most Kiwis in the 70s felt were referees cowed by the oppressive weight of an apartheid nation desperate to win and justify their way of life.
Things will never return to that fever pitch – they can't; the two nations have changed so much. But, in rugby terms, we could be a lot closer to the unfettered joy and slump-to-the-ground relief Fitzpatrick's 1996 All Blacks displayed when they finally slayed the demon.
There will be those convinced All Black standards will drop if we no longer play the old enemy on a regular basis.
The facts – or at least, the statistics – paint a different picture. Look at the first 30-odd years since South Africa were banned from international rugby in 1981. If we begin after the troubled 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand and chart a decade's worth of tests played without the Boks, an interesting scenario emerges.
From 1981-1991, with the Boks out, the All Blacks played 67 tests against all comers. They won 55 (82.1 per cent), lost nine and drew three. In this period, they won the inaugural World Cup; that champion team went undefeated in 1987, 1988 and 1989. Of the nine losses, seven were to Australia.
In the next decade (1992-2002), with the Springboks returned to international rugby in 1992 (and professional rugby born in 1996), more tests were played – 99 by the All Blacks against all nations. They won 73 (73.7 per cent), lost 23 and drew three. Of the losses, 11 were to Australia, six to South Africa, three to France, two to England and one to the British & Irish Lions.
Hang on, some will say. South Africa had been out of world rugby for years, still playing catch-up. From 2003-2013, the All Blacks played 146 tests, winning 127 (87 per cent), losing 18 and drawing one. Of the 18 losses, South Africa inflicted eight, Australia six, France and England two each.
Okay, the last decade was the time of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter but the fact remains – the All Blacks' win record looks pretty much the same when playing the Springboks and when not playing them. Another fact: in the 20-odd years the Boks have been back in the international fold, they still run second to Australia (17 wins to 14) in beating the All Blacks.
The 1992-2002 period was unquestionably Australia's best and they seem nowhere near that level now. But they will come again and surely that is where New Zealand's focus must be – and why Super Rugby needs Australian teams and for the Bledisloe Cup/transtasman rivalry to flourish.
History suggests All Black chances of being the best will not be damaged by being comparatively Bok-less (although this is admittedly a purely rugby argument and does not factor in issues like money from the southern TV broadcasting agreement).
The Boks are world champions now; the All Blacks had been for the previous eight years. Surely, if their clashes become less frequent, the less-is-more syndrome will once again ratchet up the anticipation and excitement.
So do we need the Boks? Yes, but maybe not in such frequency.
1981-1991 (Springboks banned)
67 tests played against all comers
55 won, 9 lost, 3 drawn
82% win record
Undefeated years: 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989
Points for: 2020
Points against: 839
All Blacks scored 71 per cent of all points scored
Average points per test: 30
Losses: Aus 7, Eng 1, France 1
World Cups: NZ (1987), Aus (1991)
1992-2002 (Springboks back)
99 tests played
73 won, 23 lost, 3 drawn
73% win record
Undefeated years: 1997
Points for: 3681
Points against: 1869
All Blacks scored 66 per cent of all points scored
Average points per test: 37
Losses: Aus 11, SA 6, Eng 2, France 3, Lions 1
World Cups: SA 1995, Aus 1999
2003-2013 (Springboks back – more experienced)
146 tests played
127 won, 18 lost, 1 drawn
87% win record
Undefeated years: 2013
Points for: 5083
Points against: 2455
Average points per test: 35
All Blacks scored 67 per cent of all points scored
Losses: SA 8, Aus 6, France 2, Eng 2
World Cups: Eng 2003, SA 2007, NZ 2011