Slowly but surely the stars are aligning for rugby's big shift. Covid-19 has accelerated the timeline, and it appears to be only a matter of time now before the Guinness PRO14 expands its South African presence.
On Tuesday, a report in New Zealand heralded the end of the SANZAAR agreement which governs rugby south of the equator. Newshub reported that the 'Aratipu' review conducted by the NZRU had found that the preferred path for that country is a pivot towards a trans-Tasman competition featuring teams from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific. That move would mean the end of the current competition which features teams from South Africa, Argentina and, until last season, Japan.
Instead, it looks more and more likely that the top four teams from the Rainbow Nation - the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and Lions - would replace the two current franchises participating in the PRO14, the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs, to make it a PRO16.
While those teams would certainly add real class to the competition, the further expansion of a tournament that already struggles for a clear identity represents a dangerous move. After all, why are the Kiwis and Aussies so keen to ditch their long-term partners?
The answer is clear to see early on Saturday and Sunday mornings where crowds have flocked to stadiums in New Zealand to take in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
The games have been close, the quality has been frightening at times, and the audience is clearly far more engaged than it was when the Jaguares or the Sunwolves came to town.
The games have kicked off at times that suit local audiences and the sense of excitement has been palpable. This Saturday's clash between the unbeaten Crusaders and Blues will be appointment viewing.
That's not to say the Kiwis want to live in their own bubble - they'd love to go and play the best of the rest in a World Club Championship.
However, it is clear that the desire to spend long periods of the season traversing the globe to play in near-empty stadia for matches that are broadcast at all times of the day and night has waned to the point where regionalisation works. They have created the model. Play your local derbies at full strength and generate huge interest, then go and take on the rest.
With its expansion, the PRO14/16 would have a chance to reimagine itself and come back better.
Like the New Zealanders, the South Africans want to see their best players play against each other and will be far more interested in derbies on home soil than clashes with the Dragons or Zebre.
Italy and Scotland are at a distinct disadvantage because they only have two teams each, but in Ireland and Wales it is the interpros and cross- regional clashes that generate the most interest.
Even in the Principality, where they have long struggled to connect to the regions created by professionalism, the 'Judgement Day' fixtures can put bums on seats.
The current conference system is muddled and has devalued some of the tournament's best fixtures.
Leinster and Munster reside on different sides of the draw and, while the points are of value, Leo Cullen has admitted that the lack of a head-to-head element to the fixtures has made life a little confusing.
Next month, the two teams may meet twice in three weeks at the Aviva Stadium when rugby returns. With Ireland not in action until October at the earliest, both teams will be at full strength - as will Connacht and Ulster. If the IRFU could sell tickets, they'd fly out the door.
The PRO14 can learn from Super Rugby's scattergun approach to expansion by aligning their conferences along local lines to heighten the importance of the interpros and other derbies and limit travel for financially challenged outfits.
New investors CVC Capital Partners will be looking for the PRO14 to deliver attractive matches that they can package with the Premiership and the Six Nations and sell to broadcasters and will want the fixtures to mean something to those considering buying the deal.
Currently, the PRO14 limps along from one end of the year to another before delivering an exciting finale.
The addition of South Africa's Springbok-laden franchises will definitely make it a better tournament from a rugby perspective, but their presence introduces challenges in terms of travel times and climate.
Thankfully, the PRO14 has the example of Super Rugby to learn from.