From day one, the Japanese Rugby Union have given the impression their heart hasn't really ever been in Super Rugby.
They have been tugged and dragged there by the Sanzaar alliance which held the Super Rugby door open not so much to let the Sunwolves through, but for the avalanche of cash they thought would come rolling in behind.
Sanzaar's strategic assessment of the Sunwolves stretched to looking at the size of Japan's population and economy and concluding they couldn't go wrong.
But two-and-a-half years on and Sanzaar's venture into Japan hasn't gone wrong as such, but it certainly hasn't delivered what everyone hoped. Not even close.
The Sunwolves have not been the financial golden ticket and Super Rugby mania has not gripped either the rugby public or corporate behemoths of the automotive and electronic industries.
And that should not be of particular surprise because there has always been a giant flaw in Sanzaar's plan, which is that Japan already had a healthy and significant rugby footprint and a vibrant professional competition heavily supported by the corporate behemoths of the automotive and electronics industries.
Japan's Top 14 booms along, as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia all know because it does a pretty god job luring many of the Southern Hemisphere's best players.
Unlike the Jaguares who popped up in Argentina and changed everything by providing a link to the professional game, the Sunwolves have only complicated matters.
They are the modern, garish addition to the stately home – sitting uncomfortably in a landscape where their presence makes little sense.
Imagine, for comparison, if back in the days of the NPC's pomp, there was another New Zealand team, competing for the same players, sponsors and broadcast audience but played instead in an unrelated cross-border competition?
It would be odd, unimaginably so and yet this is what is happening in Japan and this is why, it would seem, that the Japanese Rugby Union has treated the Sunwolves as if the two are trapped in a loveless marriage.
So with the Sunwolves proving to be neither a cash cow nor any kind of playing presence having won just three games in their existence, the question has to be asked about their future in Super Rugby. As in do they have one?
And to this question, there are two possible answers. The first is that they don't: that come the end of the current broadcast deal they are thrown out and replaced by a Pasifika team based in Fiji.
The second answer is that yes they do, but under a new owner and that new owner should be the New Zealand Rugby Union.
It's not so radical to suggest that NZR strike a deal to take over the club and pay the JRU an annual licence fee to run it.
Crazy? Not really. Not at all. NZR has a cash pile and it is exploring options to diversify its means of revenue generation.
New Zealand doesn't want a sixth Super Rugby team but it does want a mechanism to control or slow the number of players heading for offshore clubs.
What better way to do that than own the Sunwolves? Look at the number of young hopefuls who don't quite make Super Rugby here, but maybe would if they could be patient for one more year.
But they can't afford to be patient because so many are offered the chance to play elsewhere for real money so they go. What if they could be paid real money and be given real opportunity at the Sunwolves, under the auspices of New Zealand coaches?
They could leave New Zealand but remain part of the New Zealand system.
Think, too, about the number of older, experienced players who leave for Europe purely for money in their mid to late 20s. What if they could go to Japan, help develop emerging Kiwis and be paid significantly more than they were earning in New Zealand?
They could experience real life in a foreign country, but rugby life in a world that makes sense and provides assurances about training loads and welfare.
The added benefit of owning the Sunwolves would be the creation of more coaching jobs for New Zealanders and the deal clincher could be that transferring ownership to NZR would provide a face-saving way out of Super Rugby for JRU.
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