Rugby Australia chiefs are adamant the SANZAAR joint venture has a future despite being left in the lurch after their South African counterparts ditched the Rugby Championship.
The Springboks have pulled the pin on the 2020 tournament, leaving officials to piece together a Tri-Nations series featuring Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke says "there is no doubt" more notice would have been welcome after South Africa walked away weeks before the competition was due to start, citing player welfare concerns as their major issue.
But Clarke believes South Africa will return to the competition next year despite the further strain this places on relationships within the joint venture, which he believes is "a fair assessment".
"All of us around the joint-venture table have committed to the Rugby Championship. This isn't a normal year, the circumstances are abnormal," Clarke said.
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"That has led to the decision made for this year. South Africa has expressed overtly its commitment to the TRC in the future, as have New Zealand, Argentina and ourselves.
"We are stronger together, particularly as it relates to other issues we deal with against the north, and how we need to position ourselves as a strong block in the south.
"More notice would have been great because it would have taken some of the pressure off, but the outcome is the same and we're just going to move on.
"South Africa has committed to the Rugby Championship [for 2021]. I don't anticipate that changing."
The Tri-Nations begins with a showdown between the Wallabies and All Blacks at Sydney Olympic Park on October 31. Australia close the series against Argentina at Western Sydney Stadium on December 5.
Clarke says Rugby Australia went as far as scouting players to fill a fourth team, like a Barbarians outfit, but felt building a team in such a landscape was "plain impossible" when considering the level of play, logistics and COVID-19 protocols.
Rugby Australia officials are in discussions with state governments about the financial implications of South Africa's late withdrawal which has seen a 12-match tournament cut to six games.
"Our budgeting for this tournament, even though South Africa are not here, is still very conservative," Clarke said.
"The governments here have been outstanding in being both flexible and understanding, [we're] trying to get as much fan engagement through this process, the crowd limits hopefully will continue to allow us to make a good return.
"That return will be shared by three parties, rather than four. I'm not overly concerned by the financial exposure. We've still got work to do, clearly, and not a lot of time. I think we'll come out alright in the end.
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"Clearly it has financial implications, a lot of our modelling was done on the full Rugby Championship with double-headers. Now we model a six-week tournament with three teams involved. The broadcast implications of that are still to be worked through."
Clarke says Rugby Australia worked with their South African counterparts to the very end of the process, even piecing together a draw which would have allowed the Springboks to come for the second half of the tournament.
That was still deemed insufficient by South African rugby officials, who some fear will turn their back on the southern hemisphere and defect to Europe.
South African clubs are set to play domestic football in Europe, with officials firing a parting shot at their Kiwi counterparts on their way out the Super Rugby door.
"It's fair to say, whilst we're disappointed on one hand, we still have a lot to look forward to here. We still have six weeks of great Test rugby," Clarke said.
"We're playing the All Blacks four times, twice in Australia which is a great challenge and an opportunity. You've got people like Michael Cheika consulting to the Argentinians which adds a bit of marketing spice. There is a lot to look forward to."
Match one: Saturday October 31 - Australia v New Zealand at Sydney Olympic Park.
Match two: Saturday November 7 - Australia v New Zealand at Lang Park.
Match three: Saturday November 14 - New Zealand v Argentina at Western Sydney Stadium.
Match four: Saturday November 21 - Australia v Argentina at Newcastle Stadium.
Match five: Saturday November 28 - Argentina v New Zealand at Newcastle Stadium.
Match six: Saturday December 5 - Australia v Argentina at Western Sydney Stadium.