Currie Cup's facelift complete
Currie Cup's facelift completeSHARE
The new Currie Cup format, featuring eight teams, will come into play on August 8 – in a fresh start to South Africa's premier domestic competition.
Newcomers the Eastern Province Kings get things going when they on Western Province in the opening match.
The Currie Cup was expanded from six teams to eight, following a decision by the South African Rugby Union's general council in February.
This format ensures that the six anchor unions in SA (the Blue Bulls, Sharks, Western Province, Free State Cheetahs, Golden Lions and the EP Kings) will be guaranteed their places in the Currie Cup for the next two seasons.
First Division champions, the Pumas, meanwhile, gained entry into the Premier Division after winning the promotion-relegation matches against Griquas at the conclusion of last season, while Griquas booked their spot in a thrilling qualifying series which ended last weekend.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux was excited about the new competition format and said it would be beneficial for SA rugby, especially with the EP Kings featuring alongside the other core unions.
"The Eastern Cape region is a stronghold in SA, so it is fitting that they receive the opportunity to compete regularly with the other franchise unions," said Roux.
"This will also assist the EP Kings in their preparation for their inclusion in Super Rugby in 2016, so we are excited to see what they have to offer.
"I have no doubt the tournament will continue to generate the excitement it has in the past with a tight race for semifinal places and a few upsets throughout the season."