IF the NRL really wanted an NRLW competition to go ahead this year, it would have happened. Plain and simple.
The likes of CEO Andrew Abdo and others can spin it any way they like, but it's inescapable. If they wanted it, it would have happened.
Looking back at recent history, can you draw any other conclusion?
What the ARL Commission and chairman Peter V'landys - whom many regard as the best politician in the country - have wanted, they've got.
As it loudly trumpeted, the NRL was one of the first sports in the world to get back up and running after the pandemic hit. When the biosecurity expert hired to navigate the code through the crisis suggested greater caution, it went and hired another expert.
We've now seen two seasons carried out amid the pandemic, with the NRL benefitting from all manner of government favours, exemptions and goodwill along the way.
It's not meant as criticism. V'landys, Abdo and the ARLC have been widely applauded and commended for the way they've navigated what was truly an existential crisis - and rightly so.
Abdo, in particular, has adapted brilliantly to arguably the most scrutinised position in Australian sport in the most trying of circumstances. The game's ability to clear hurdles and, not just survive but, find a way to thrive has been extraordinary.
Tough times also see one's true priorities laid bare.
From the outset it must be noted the NRL funded last year's NRLW competition when clubs put it straight on the chopping block. However, the postponement of the women's competition this year shows where it really sits as a priority.
Yes, getting the competition up and running would have been a logistical nightmare, but the game has crawled through Dante's Nine Circles of Hell to keep the NRL - and broadcast revenue - ticking over.
It was even willing to relocate entire families to luxury Queensland resorts to keep rugby league rolling.
Like most things, it's not necessarily the decision that grates, it's the spin. Abdo said the NRL had "exhausted all avenues" to see the competition go ahead - except, you know, actually lodging a bubble proposal with the Queensland government.
It's all right though, they had "daily discussions" Abdo assured us. That's kind of the point. The NRL has routinely placed itself at the front of the queue in regards to lobbying governments.
"The government said no" hasn't washed as an excuse for anything in the best part of 18 months. In this instance it does, even though the government never actually said no.
There's supposedly a survey floating around showing 30 per cent of players said they would not be willing to enter a bubble - though an RLPA survey that showed 75 per cent of NRL players wanted to take part in the World Cup didn't stop the ARLC successfully white-anting that tournament.
It was also going to include a Women's World Cup that female players will now also go without this year. Surely, with its actions in bringing about that tournament's undoing, the Commission was obliged to at least ensure the NRLW competition proceeded.
There's also the matter of players now stranded in the country, having relocated from New Zealand to take part in the tournament.
In reality, there are positives to an NRLW competition being in February. The February window is what first propelled the AFLW's meteoric rise, with punters thirsting for footy action a week after the final ball of the Test cricket summer is bowled.
If there'd been broader consultation on the move, it shouldn't have been too difficult to get elite female players on board, disappointed as they are.
Instead, female players routinely learn of fresh developments in the media before they hear it from NRL HQ. To say that sparks frustration in the women's playing ranks is an understatement.
The feeling was similar when a contract system that treated them like children was suddenly dropped on them without consultation in June.
It's an approach that continues to treat competitions, funding, resources and all the rest as gifts our best female players are given, and that they should be treated as such. Those things are actually something the current class, and certainly their predecessors, have earned.
They're asked to act like professionals. The recent incident (if you can call it that) involving Millie Boyle certainly shows they can expect professional scrutiny.
More broadly, there's more at stake for the game than just one competition. All sports, particularly traditionally male-dominated ones, are increasingly judged on their vision for their elite women's programs.
The Matildas were one of the marquee attractions and television rating winners during the Olympics; 86,000 people attended the women's T20 World Cup final in March last year.
These are not normal times, but the rugby league's approach has to change moving forward.
So many ARLC decisions, from sanctions on misbehaving players to high-tackle crackdowns, have been justified by a need to appeal to "mums at home" who determine what sport their kids play.
Half of them have daughters. How likely are mums to put their daughters into a game that still treats even its elite players as accessories?
You can say this entire view is idealistic or not attuned to financial realities and all the rest. You may be right, but take a look back over the last two years and ask yourself this: when has the NRL really wanted something and not got it?
That's the question many of our elite female players are now asking.