Imagine the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup, then declaring drop goals are banned for the next one, or a triumphant Springboks making it illegal to feed the outside backs.
Inconceivable? That's how it works in yachting's America's Cup; under the Deed of Gift written in the far distant past, the cup defender sets regatta rules.
When the cup was born in 1851, the Deed of Gift intended it to be a "friendly competition between foreign nations" with the words "Open to All Nations" engraved on the Auld Mug.
Now it's morphed into an unfriendly competition between billionaires, or countries with Governments prepared to back a multimillion-dollar campaign.
It's about who can build the fastest (i.e. most expensive) yacht, hire the most talented sailors, raise more money, and payroll the craftiest lawyers, with the New York Supreme Court having jurisdiction over all things America's Cup.
And money has talked.
Swiss billionaire and entrepreneur Ernesto Bertarelli captured the cup in Auckland in 2003, then American software giant Larry Ellison prised it away to San Francisco.
When Ellison grabbed the cup off Bertarelli amid legal wrangling in 2010, it was the fifth-wealthiest man in the world taking it off the 83rd richest, based on Forbes magazine figures.
And Ellison used the Deed of Gift to come up with a format that suited his bank balance, decreeing the contending yachts would be giant and fantastically expensive AC72 catamarans.
It has been a spectacular, engrossing and nerve-jangling regatta.
But all nations? Just three challengers turned up for the Louis Vuitton Cup, with $100 million budgets needed to be competitive, scuppering the dreams of all others.
It took four million New Zealand taxpayers coughing up $36m in government funding to help match the resources of one American billionaire.
Team boss Grant Dalton has often questioned the money-hungry, thrill-seeking direction the regatta took with the AC72s.
"We said they will be dangerous, they're going to cost a fortune and you won't get the entries," he told The Dominion Post. "But they weren't listening."
If Dalton is true to his word, any New Zealand defence will more closely reflect the "friendly" and "all nations" intent of the Deed of Gift.
Dalton clashed publicly with America's Cup holder Sir Russell Coutts over the cup format, at a lavish dinner in Auckland this year.
He ambushed Coutts with a short video featuring Ellison's original vision of the 2013 regatta - one built around small budgets that would attract as many as 16 challengers.
"What the hell went wrong?" Dalton demanded, after Ellison's vision screened.
What eventuated was supersonic yachts, skyrocketing costs.
It was something Coutts has said would appeal to the Facebook generation, not the Flintstones generation.
So how would a cup regatta look, if it ever returned to Auckland?
Dalton wanted a version similar to that held in 2007, when there were four challengers - Luna Rossa Challenge, Team New Zealand, Oracle Racing and Desafio Espanol.
He has talked of the introduction of an independent judge and race jury plus an independent organiser to eliminate conflicts of interest.
He has pointed to the need for a forum where challengers' voices can be heard, plus an opportunity for complaints to go to mediation, rather than off to New York.
He has spoken about the need to restore the "nobility" of the cup, its "innocence" and again making it a race between nations.
"I think one of the things that has turned the New Zealand public off in recent years is that they can't comprehend that a sport could end up in court so many times. And I couldn't agree with them more," he said before this regatta.
But now the public are tuned back in, and much of the reason is the tension engendered by the flying peril posed by the speeding AC72s.
Retaining those thrills and potential spills, while keeping down the cost and wooing syndicates to New Zealand may prove a difficult balancing act, even for a syndicate that saved Aotearoa from capsizing as it tilted nearly 45 degrees on San Francisco Bay.
- © Fairfax NZ News