New Zealand Rugby has been so badly jerked around by Rugby Australia and Sanzaar, the group that's supposed to run Southern Hemisphere rugby, the result may ultimately be the All Blacks defaulting the Rugby Championship.
NZR believed they had an agreement with Australia, South Africa and Argentina for the Rugby Championship across the Tasman to finish on December 5 or 6 so the All Blacks could return home, spend 14 days in quarantine and be with their families for Christmas.
Instead NZR was stabbed in the back. Why?
At the heart of what's seen as a serious betrayal is the need for cash-strapped Rugby Australia, on the bones of their backside even before anchor sponsor Qantas dropped out this week, to have all 12 games played on weekends so they can squeeze every last available cent from the tournament.
When the Championship was to be played in New Zealand, there was agreement some tests would be held during the week so it would be over by December 6. Assurances from Rugby Australia that the same would happen across the Tasman were
taken at face value.
Instead, on Thursday there was an extraordinary statement out of Sydney, which has dropped relations between Australian and New Zealand rugby to the lowest point since the debacle of 2003, when the NZRU lost part-hosting rights to the World Cup in Australia.
In a joint statement from Rugby Australia and Sanzaar's Andy Marinos on Thursday, the Sanzaar chief executive said: "It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we are delighted that we can now confirm the match dates and venues [for the Rugby Championship]."
Which was news to New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.
Simon Barnett and I asked him on NewstalkZB on Thursday if the schedule of matches was set in stone.
He said: "All we [NZR] are saying is we haven't agreed to it."
Robinson is as honest as any man who has ever worn an All Blacks jersey, or sat in a position of authority in New Zealand rugby. I say that from some personal knowledge, and a lot of informed opinion from players who knew him well when they were teammates of his with the Crusaders and All Blacks.
So you can sell the house and put your money on him telling the truth when he said on NewstalkZB: "We [NZR] agreed, we believe, to a set of principles around New Zealand and Australian players and management being in a situation where from the 5th and 6th of December, they were free to be finished with the competition and go into quarantine and be with their families over Christmas time."
His tone was mild and the words carefully chosen, but read them carefully, and the meaning is damning.
NZR thought they had a firm handshake deal with the Aussies and Sanzaar. Instead, they're having to somehow convince our sunburnt neighbours across the Tasman to stick with what NZR believed they'd been promised.
Some here have seized on the issue of All Blacks not being home for Christmas. Online critics have sneered at "well-paid players not wanting to do their job".
The reality is that Christmas at home now isn't the problem. The shocking loss of good faith over the boardroom deal is what's causing the rift.
This isn't a situation that's going to be resolved in a hurry. A lot of water, likely to have a fair quota of blood in it, has to flow under the bridge before it's finally over.
All we can be certain of is that negotiations will be tense and tough, and if nobody blinks, it's possible the only international rugby the All Blacks play this year will be the Bledisloe Cup games here.
ave Halligan, the man involved in one of the most hard-luck stories in All Black history, was farewelled in Tauranga this week, having died at 61.
In 1981, a 21-year-old Halligan was living the dream. A bright graduate of King's College in Auckland, he was studying for what would eventually be a double degree at Otago University.
A star in the Otago team, he was named at fullback in the '81 All Black team to play Scotland at Carisbrook.
The team assembled on the Wednesday night, and then trained the next morning, as Halligan told me last year, "on a cold, wet, horrible day, when you should have been wearing track pants".
He didn't, and, asked by coach Peter Burke to run into the backline at top speed, felt the quad muscle at the front of his left leg tear.
He talked later with the team physio, Malcolm Hood, and made the decision to withdraw from the test. "If I'd kept it quiet I probably could have started on the Saturday. But that would have been dishonest," Halligan said. "And I was only 21. At that age you never dream that there won't be another chance. I wasn't really that upset at the time."
But a second chance never came. Allan Hewson took his place at fullback, and would hold the spot throughout the fraught '81 Springbok tour. In 1982 Halligan sat on the bench for three tests against the Wallabies as reserve to Hewson. With no tactical subbing in those days, he never got to wear the All Black jersey in a game.
There was a happy second act. Halligan led a full and satisfying life. With a private trust, Rongoa Whanau (which translates as peaceful families), he worked full time in the Tauranga area to try to stop the scourge of domestic violence. He went back to university as an adult student to find whatever ways he could, in his heartfelt words, "to just stop people doing it".
As for his brush with All Black rugby? Last August he could laugh at the memory. "Here's the good news about that. I'm now a Trivial Pursuit question."