RIP the last remnants of Sanzaar accord.
Today's announcement of the Rugby Championship schedule that has so perturbed New Zealand Rugby should lay to rest any mistaken belief that there is a future for the organisation.
It should also embarrass those who mocked the Prime Minister for claiming that "Sanzaar politics" were behind the decision to "award" this woebegone tournament to Australia.
This will pain most of that dwindling species of human that call themselves "rugby folk", most of whom fall on the conservative side of the political spectrum, but Jacinda Ardern was right; you were wrong.
Here it is, writ large in a screeching press release from the NZR comms team that euphemistically "expressed its disappointment" in the scheduling announcement that has the All Blacks – the financial engine that drives rugby – playing on December 12 and therefore, under quarantine rules, missing Christmas at home with their families.
This is pure politics. It's also difficult to fathom at any level.
Sanzaar is but the sum of its parts. It beggars belief that they can release a schedule without signoff from all its constituents, of which NZ Rugby is clearly one. If New Zealand hasn't agreed to the schedule, and clearly it hasn't, then under Sanzaar's own rules, there is no schedule.
Except there is.
Sanzaar isn't just breaking its rules, but it is broken beyond repair. It is, after all, nothing more than a broadcast rights clearing house and logistics service, but it can't even do that properly.
Its own members – all four of them – can't organise an amicable Zoom call together let alone a tournament. It is a black comedy and if the late, great John Clarke was still alive he could have a field day with the last few months' worth of material.
This would have been the ideal time for the chairman of Sanzaar and the chairman of New Zealand Rugby to get their heads together, to put self-interest aside, and come up with a compromise that would work for both parties but… wait, what's that you say?
They're one and the same person.
It's easy to feel sorry for the players who stand to miss the simple pleasures of sherry-soaked trifle, a slice of a pav and the look of disappointment on their kid's face when they get a new bike and not an Xbox Series X, but it's really, really hard to feel too sorry for NZ Rugby.
They tried to strong-arm Sanzaar when they thought the country was Covid-free, effectively giving the middle finger to their former partners when announcing their plans for Super Rugby.
The karma police are out in force.
There is more to come, undoubtedly. Even if the the rules are bent to accommodate the All Blacks back home before Santa hitches up his reindeer, this will remain an ignominious chapter in Sanzaar's book.
And probably one of its last.