There are some poor misguided souls who continue to believe that rugby games are not affected by the referee.
Bless them, they probably think multi-national corporations pay tax and that Japanese whaling boats really are conducting scientific research.
Cynicism isn't such an endearing quality but those who don't have it are labouring under the misapprehension that there is a purity to the rugby contest when there isn't.
How to play the referee has become one of the game's fundamental skills. Get it right and the benefits are enormous as rugby is in the midst of a perfect storm where a relatively poor global refereeing cohort is being sent mixed messages from all the various national and international bodies to whom they must report.
Combine this with convoluted and outdated laws, a need to make the game more entertaining in these financially-challenged times and the ability of social media trolls to get inside the heads of officialdom and we have a sport that is held hostage by the mood of individual referees on any given day.
The purists can mock this as delusional, conspiracy nonsense and believe in their fairy-tale world where referees are beyond reproach, robotic and precise in how they apply the laws.
But the pragmatists know this volatile world to be the one and the truly smart rugby teams are aware that they can swing a contest like never before by managing the referee.
Highlanders coach Tony Brown made this point after he saw his side lose their Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa opener to the Crusaders despite dominating territory and possession to such an extent that their opponents conceded 15 penalties and incurred two yellow cards.
The Highlanders were penalised only eight times and so statistically the picture was of one team dominating and playing within the laws, while the other incessantly infringed.
Yet, the Crusaders won 26-13. The Highlanders played a role in their own demise – repeatedly failing to launch effective driving mauls from their endless penalties, But how smart were the Crusaders in realising they could commit the same offence multiple times in quick succession before referee Ben O'Keefe would reach for the yellow card?
Smart teams quickly sense their boundaries with a referee and push them and the Crusaders are probably the smartest out there.
They killed the ball when they felt the Highlanders had opened them up - and were inevitably going to score by exploiting the visitors' scrambling defence.
It looked calculated – that they had worked out how many times they could do that before O'Keefe's patience would snap and he'd send one of them off for 10 minutes.
The Crusaders were backing themselves to successfully defend the Highlanders' driving lineouts even with 14 men and so the penalties were a price they were willing to pay.
O'Keefe's performance is not open to criticism, but the Crusaders may not have been willing to infringe the way they did had the referee reached for a card earlier in the game.
And the Crusaders certainly would have had to re-think if they feared O'Keefe was prepared to card them into submission and reduce them to 13 or even 12 men.
But they rightly picked that he didn't want to induce that sort of a lopsided contest and so they came away winners – derided as cynical by Brown and smart by everyone else.
And that's how rugby rolls these days. A close contest tends to be swung not by an act of brilliance, but sustained and clever management of the referee.
The best teams work with the officials rather than against them, and this was apparent not just in Super Rugby, but also in the Six Nations.
The numbers that came out of the game in Dunedin were similar to those produced in Cardiff in the clash between Wales and England.
Wales had 55 per cent of territory and possession and conceded nine penalties, while England were penalised 14 times. The big difference, though, was that Wales won 40-24 and scored two tries where they twice won the benefit of a major doubt simply by having built significantly better rapport with referee Pascal Gauzere.
Two of their tries probably shouldn't have stood but they had built goodwill with the referee in the way they had played and in the way they had related to him.
Wales earned their win but they built it as much on the way they handled the referee as they did the dominance of their pack.
And that's rugby – a game impacted and influenced by referees.