Australia's opening Sky Super Rugby Transtasman performances against the Kiwi teams have been "dreadful" according to their boss.
But Hamish McLennan, the ARU chairman, says Australia must remain in the transtasman competition, enduring the pain for eventual gain.
Excuses are starting to leak out of Australia following their horrendous nought-from-10 start, with one veteran columnist claiming Rugby Australia let its own teams down by accepting the draw.
There were hints of rugby optimism across the ditch, after a much-praised Australian final between the Reds and Brumbies. But that has been smashed by the opening two rounds of the Transtasman competition.
Australia's fragile rugby pride took a huge hit when the Crusaders tore the Reds apart in Brisbane. The battle of the respective champions revealed just how big the gulf is between the old rugby rivals.
But the obvious is proving hard to accept in some quarters.
Wayne Smith, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, went as far as claiming the Brumbies schedule was "the stuff of nightmares".
Smith wrote: "RA has no-one to blame but itself for the fact that Australian teams are currently 0 and 10 against their New Zealand counterparts in the trans-Tasman component of Super Rugby.
"That blunt assessment comes from none other than the chairman of Rugby Australia, Hamish McLennan, who believes it was sheer lunacy for Australia to agree to have its two best sides, the Reds and Brumbies, playing their opening matches in New Zealand within days of contesting the grand final here in Australia."
Smith said RA always knew the Reds and Brumbies were the likely finalists in the Aussie competition, and should have protected them when the draw was made in October.
Smith lamented the Brumbies having to play "the top three sides" (Crusaders, Chiefs, Blues) in New Zealand. He also thought the Reds having to host the champion Crusaders in round two was a bit rough.
Smith wrote: "RA sold them down the river…if the purpose of the exercise was to get some Australian wins on the board early to consolidate the achievements of Super Rugby AU.
"RA dropped the ball badly and thoroughly deserve the blast from the chairman."
McLennan said "RA has to lift its game."
"But let's not fall into the trap where we eat ourselves alive," he said.
"There are new commercial partners, new broadcaster and stakeholders who all believe in the plan for where our game is going.
"The last two weeks have been dreadful but there have been key learnings from it.
"If we want to be the world's best, we have to beat the world's best.
"And New Zealand has the best provincial rugby sides in the world. We're still committed to Trans-Tasman and there is a ton of potential there. For the long term, it's absolutely the right thing to do."
There are suggestions RA might press for a replica of this year's format to be repeated in 2022. This would involve retaining the separate New Zealand and Australian conferences, as opposed to a 10 or 12-team competition.
"That might mean putting the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika teams on ice for a further 12 months, which would be cruel," Smith wrote.
"That said there are some crippling logistical problems for them to sort out."