With the North versus South piece of the complex, ever-changing 2020 puzzle fixed in place, New Zealand Rugby's attention will soon switch to attempting to finalise plans for the All Blacks season.
After three days of deliberating NZ Rugby confirmed the North against South match will be played in Wellington on Saturday, September 5, with no crowd in attendance after Auckland's tight Covid-19 restrictions effectively ruled out staging the game at Eden Park as originally planned.
"It would be fair to say the announcement on Monday was not anyone was quite hoping for in terms of an open ability to organise these matches with crowds," NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said. "We just needed to pause and make sure we made the right decision for this match.
"It's slightly bittersweet. We had hoped very much to play this game in Auckland in front of crowds. It's sad news for spectators, but we're very supportive of the Government's position."
While NZR stand to lose gate takings of around $1 million, Lendrum indicated revenue from broadcast partner Sky and others would cover costs.
"Clearly they're delighted to have a game to broadcast of such significance but the conversations have been very collaborative all year and have been around this match as well.
"As a financial outcome it would have been better to have fans but we've still got a match that our sponsors and broadcasters can benefit from. We're really happy with how the financial picture will play out for this game.
"We've always said we were willing to play this game behind closed doors. I know the players are hugely excited they will have had a couple of weeks off rugby and will be raring to go."
As it stands, teams will assemble on Monday in Wellington and prepare separately for the fixture. NZR has applied for Government exemptions for Auckland-based coaching staff to travel before Level 3 restrictions are lifted at midnight Sunday.
"We've got one or two management we'd ideally like to get out before Sunday from Auckland so we're just working through that with the health authorities but none of it is fatal to the game."
The Farah Palmer Cup, which has been delayed by two weeks, will now kick off the same weekend as the North versus South match, while the Mitre 10 Cup is due to start on September 11. With teams classified as work places they are permitted to train in Auckland under Level 2.
The next part of the equation centres on NZR finalising plans for the All Blacks.
At this stage All Blacks coach Ian Foster is expected to name his maiden 35-man squad the day after the North against South match, with the first hit out scheduled against a Moana Pacific side at Mt Smart Stadium on October 3.
Hopes are that the Bledisloe Cup can then begin on October 10, with Rugby Australia determined to host the first two tests against the All Blacks.
NZR's preference is, however, likely to involve bringing Dave Rennie's Wallabies to New Zealand in order to minimise quarantine periods ahead of the proposed Rugby Championship from November 7 to December 12. The global pandemic landscape leaves that tournament in major doubt.
"We haven't given up on international rugby," said Lendrum.
"We've got one piece in this giant 2020 jigsaw dropped into place for next weekend then we start working with the other pieces today and trying to move them around and fit them into the picture.
"We'll have more announcements around that in the future but people here are working flat out on trying to get the prospect of international rugby to come to fruition.
"We're working really closely with Rugby Australia around Bledisloe Cup fixtures and also speaking with Sanzaar and our colleagues in South Africa and Argentina to see what may be possible around Rugby Championship and under what conditions they're prepared to send players and teams to New Zealand.
"Australia would be the only venue we are considering travelling to and, yes, they would have their own travel policies and restrictions in place which we have to take account which takes time out of the calendar potentially."