In the battle for hearts and minds over the Silver Lake deal, New Zealand Rugby is a clear leader.
But in the process a divide is opening in the game that is already deeper than the grim days of the 1986 rebel Cavaliers tour to South Africa, or the drive in 1995, led then by All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick, to break away from the NZRU and play for a Kerry Packer led private organisation.
Since NZR chairman Brent Impey and Players' Association president David Kirk squared off on NewstalkZB on Friday afternoon, I've been startled by the animosity towards our professional players from fans. "Greedy pricks" is one of the printable descriptions, delivered to me in person by a rugby acquaintance at Eden Park on Saturday night.
Kirk was adamant that his association's main concern was that NZR was wrong to believe that the Silver Lake deal would bring a healthy profit to the game. Instead, he swore, it would ensure losses for the foreseeable future. Impey took an entirely opposing view.
The fine details of what Silver Lake get for their 12.5% share are head spinning. Either NZR and their accounting firm, or the Players' Association and their accounting firm, are completely mistaken.
As most of us don't have a degree in accounting or finance, the NZR couching the dispute as actually being mainly over whether All Blacks and Super Rugby players get more money is at first glance a stroke of public relations gold.
If it's a choice between an All Black picking up an extra $50,000 a year on his fat contract, or little Johnny or Julie in Pirinoa getting a pair of boots, who wouldn't vote for the kids?
The pressure going on the Players' Association may force them ultimately to change their stance. But if the war of words, which already includes Kirk being called disingenuous by Impey, escalates, there's a danger that goes to the soul of the game in New Zealand.
Rugby here has always depended on two foundation stones. One is at the grassroots, where in small towns from Kaikohe to Bluff (I've been to clubs in both places) good hearted people run the show, and participation makes them a big part of the community's social fabric. There's no question that local rugby is in trouble, and needs help.
The other bedrock comes from the All Blacks.
Much more emphasis on money hungry players and their thirst for bigger deals and, as much as I hate even using the word in this context, the All Blacks "brand" will be damaged.
If those barefoot kids in Pirinoa blame greedy pricks in black jerseys for their Saturday morning chilblains the long term costs could be huge.
If NZR wants a model of how to present themselves in the current clash, they should look no further than how Jock Hobbs acted in 1995 when he frantically flew up and down the country, persuading players to ignore the $US100,000 a year contract being offered by the Packer backed group, and instead sign with the NZRU.
Hobbs managed to keep the public discussion so bland, that when Fitzpatrick led the All Blacks to their first series win in South Africa in 1996, all fans cared about was his fearless, inspiring leadership on the field. Largely because of Hobbs' diplomacy there were no unhappy memories of the potential breakaway Fitzpatrick had been leading just the year before.
Finally, a few talking points from the weekend on the field.
I'VE SEEN THE FUTURE OF THE GAME, AND IT'S INCLUSIVE
The first women's Super Rugby game, with the Chiefs beating the Blues 39-12, was a terrific match, with the sort of dynamic play that's a reminder, if any was still needed, that women's rugby is not only here to stay, but is also vital to keeping the sport alive.
To be brutally honest the women's game was once disrespected, as a sop to what one provincial chairman described to me in the 1990s as "keeping the girls happy". The sport now has its own super stars in the likes of Portia Woodman, and hopefully, genuine encouragement at the top level.
The burden of expectation on the history making teams at Eden Park could have inhibited them. Instead, it was clear from the opening salvos, it inspired them.
THEY DON'T CALL THEM DEAD RUBBERS FOR NOTHING
The Hurricanes beating the Highlanders 41-22 in Wellington was a throwback to the days of what they used to call festival games. Highly enjoyable, lots of running and tries, and ultimately of no consequence.
The Blues 39-19 win over the Chiefs at Eden Park had fun moments too, but was mostly just weird. The Chiefs had so many second stringers in their side you realised what a difference it makes when key players aren't on the field.
Next Saturday in Christchurch in the final with the Crusaders, we'll see if it was a genius coaching move, or the wrong one, for the Chiefs to not take the chance to have a competitive hit out while the Crusaders sat out the bye.
AND TO FINISH ON A POSITIVE NOTE
Whoever the talent scout for King's College was who spotted Zarn Sullivan and offered him the scholarship that brought him from Napier to Auckland may one day deserve a plaque at Eden Park.
Sullivan, still only 20 years old, had a stunning debut for the Blues against the Chiefs. Like his coach at the Blues Leon MacDonald, Sullivan can play first-five or fullback, and he made the step from provincial rugby last year with Auckland to Super Rugby Aotearoa look as easy as slipping on a luxury tailor made suit.