If the Black Ferns really were on an equal footing, they would be playing a few tests this year, writes Gregor Paul.
There are big red numbers splattered across national union balance sheets so almost every decision made can be justified as a financial reality.
New Zealand Rugby announced a loss of $7.4 million for 2019 and then predicted, as it gazed into the pandemic-affected future, it could lose around $120 million of income in 2020.
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No one disagreed or saw that as a grossly inflated worst-case scenario. The maths was undeniable – if there were no tests played, or they were held behind closed doors and Super Rugby was a wipe out, then the revenue plunge really would be close to 70 per cent.
There are significant reserves of cash tucked away in the vault, built up precisely for this sort of rainy day, but still, the need to generate revenue, not for profit but for survival, has been an overwhelming consideration in the short-term strategic thinking for NZR.
Money, or lack of, is the reason why a condensed Rugby Championship is going ahead. It's the reason Super Rugby was hastily reconfigured and why the inter-island fixture was kept alive and played a week later than planned.
We all get it. We all understand the imperative and yet even in these fiscally pressured times, it still doesn't sit right that the All Blacks will play eight tests this year and the Black Ferns none.
It still feels awfully like women's rugby is seen by those in decision-making roles as something to consider only once and if every aspect of the men's game has been catered for.
Throughout the last six months there has been an urgency and desperation to get the men into action. No one needed the importance of that explained.
But the women's game hasn't had that same support. It seems like some in authority really did believe women's rugby would have to be written off this year as an unfortunate casualty of the economic hardships.
Yes, there are financial realities but so, too,e are there gender inequality realities - and we shouldn't use the former to condone the latter.
Women's rugby was seen by too many as a nice to have rather than must have this year. Before the lockdown, NZR had secured the busiest and best test match schedule for the Black Ferns in the professional era.
They were going to be playing double-headers and standalone tests, as part of a comprehensive build-up to next year's World Cup.
Here we are now, 364 days away from the World Cup and none of the tests that were organised pre-lockdown have been salvaged.
The Rugby Championship has been saved. The Bledisloe Cup has been saved. The Government has been successfully lobbied to alter quarantine restrictions to make it feasible for the Wallabies to come here and yet the prospect of playing a Black Ferns test has been deemed too hard.
Not feasible due to economic realities. Maybe we should simply accept this is a justifiable truth – a temporary state of affairs imposed by unthinkable circumstances.
But it's not really that at all. What we have seen post-lockdown is that attitudes have not changed much, if it all, when it comes to women's rugby.
It remains an afterthought: a secondary concern. Women always miss out. They continue to be viewed as sacrificial. Remember back to 2018 when there was a Bledisloe Cup double-header in Sydney?
The ground staff didn't think the field would cope with four teams warming up on it and two matches. So the women were told they had to warm up on a nearby netball court. The men warmed up on the field.
And that's kind of where rugby remains with women – that if there is any squeeze on resource, they will be the losers. No one would dare tell the All Blacks to warm up on a netball court and this male first attitude is proving hard to shift.
The intention pre-Covid arriving was for the Bledisloe Cup test in New Zealand to be a double-header fixture. Now it's not. Now there are two Bledisloe fixtures in New Zealand - neither of which will be double-headers.
The Black Ferns were squeezed out by the need to maximise profits, which here we go again, is being sold as a financial reality, but may just be indicative of the fragility of the commitment that has been made to support the women's game.
It's hard not to suspect, given the business of heaven and earth having been moved to get All Blacks tests scheduled this year, that if women really were on an equal footing, they too would be playing a few tests this year.