I get the derision about the 104-14 rout by the All Blacks of an under strength United States team in Washington. Let's face it, even if European clubs had released the best Americans for the game, it would have still been a hiding for the home side.
What I don't get is some of the prissiness there's been over the match in Washington being driven more by commercial need that sporting imperatives.
This test wasn't about rugby, it was about money, and right now that's not an evil thing, with the game in New Zealand getting a taste of what it's like to run a tourism or hospitality or entertainment business.
Covid-19 has closed down NPC teams in Auckland, North Harbour, and Counties-Manukau. The pandemic forced a second test at Eden Park against the Wallabies that drew a scarily small crowd. With way less cash coming in, wage cuts and redundancies are happening at every level, from New Zealand Rugby headquarters to Heartland provinces.
So if a chance to pick up a lazy couple of million dollars to be involved in what was basically an opposed training run in Washington popped up, who in their right mind would turn it down?
Yes, a one off test with shared revenue at Twickenham would not only be a real contest, but would also be more profitable. Unfortunately the lords of the game in London don't need the All Blacks that much. So, as one-sided as a game with the United States will always be, it's better than having more figures in the debit columns of NZR's annual accounts.
Meanwhile, on the field, the game may not have been a washout for some of the All Blacks. Three stood out in Washington.
Time waits for no one
In the scramble to establish who's next in line behind Aaron Smith at halfback Finlay Christie edged himself forward.
Smith, as great players do, has set the pattern for a 21st century halfback. Near the top of the list is speed, both to breakdowns and in open field running with the ball.
Behind a totally dominant forward pack Christie was outstanding. There were no awkward moments when forwards had to decide whether they should clear the ball themselves, Christie was always at their heels.
And, as will always be the case in a sport where physical contact is a huge element, Christie has another precious element on his side. He's 26. TJ Perenara is 29, and Brad Weber is 30. With two years to the next World Cup age can't help but be a consideration.
The mighty Quinn
In 2018 Quinn Tupaea was Waikato's rookie of the year, and he won the same title with the Chiefs last year. After the composure he showed in the Rugby Championship in Australia, his tireless efforts against the American team make him a contender for the same accolade in the All Blacks.
There's a solidity about Tupaea, which was spotted when he was still a schoolboy at Hamilton Boys' High, where he captained the First XV, and then an unbeaten New Zealand Secondary Schools' side in 2017.
There's nothing flashy about Tupaea, but 1987 World Cup winner Joe Stanley was not a show pony either, and he became one of the best midfielders the All Blacks have ever had.
The biggest names making a return were, of course, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, and Dane Coles. But Braydon Ennor's first starting test was noteworthy too. Ennor, big, fast, and gifted looked a superstar in the making from his first game of Super Rugby in 2018, but he's been plagued by injuries. So it was exciting to see him sprinting away in the last moments of Sunday morning's game to send Perenara away for the All Blacks' 16th try.
Meanwhile in Japan
While the All Blacks romped in the States, the Wallabies struggled in Japan, finally winning 32-23, without ever looking likely to run away with the test in Oita.
After a dazzling start from Quade Cooper, the Aussies allowed themselves to be sucked into a high pace, run and gun match, one that played into the hands of the super fit Japanese side. There were signs that Cooper may not be quite as commanding when he doesn't have the unflappable rock that Samu Kerevi is at his side.
All hail the men from he heart of the country
As they have all season Hawke's Bay and Taranaki show no signs of dropping their standards, with the Bay keeping the Ranfurly Shield and their lead in the NPC premiership with a 41-14 victory over third placed Waikato, and Taranaki beating second placed Manawatu, 47-35 in the championship, to stay unbeaten against all comers this year. Every win for Taranaki posts another statement about why they should be in the premiership in 2022.