Western Province will kick off their Provincial Rugby Challenge title defence against the EP Elephants in Kwazakhele on Sunday.
The defending champions will be part of the first rugby festival, at the Wolfson Stadium outside Port Elizabeth. Two other teams in the South Section, the Border Bulldogs and Boland Cavaliers, will play in the earlier match at the same venue.
The Welwitschias beat the Valke in Windhoek last year and will again add an international flavour to the opening round when they meet at the Nelspruit Rugby Club on Saturday. The Pumas and Blue Bulls will be the other two in the North Section to battle it out.
The Central Section last year proved to be hugely competitive and two of the early favourites, Griquas and the Sharks XV meet in Kimberley, while the Leopards will host the Griffons in the North West town of Schweizer-Reneke.
Six new coaches will get their first taste of rugby at this level, two of them former Springbok Test players.
Former Bok assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher will take charge of the Sharks XV, while Daan Human will use his international experience as a player to add that little bit extra to the Free State XV.
Herkie Kruger will coach the Golden Lions XV, David Manuel will be looking for glory with the Blue Bulls while it will also be a proud start to the competition for Ryan Felix (EP) and Tiger Mangweni (Border), as they will coach the teams they played for in their heyday.
The Pumas also have former SA Rugby Coach of the Year, Jimmy Stonehouse, who came back from a stint in Japan to take up the director of rugby position.
Round 1 fixtures:
Saturday, 21 April:
Welwitschias vs Valke (Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek, 15:00)
Pumas vs Blue Bulls (Nelspruit Rugby Club, Nelspruit, 15:00)
Griquas vs Sharks XV (Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley, 15:00)
Leopards vs Griffons (HS Schweizer-Reneke, Schweizer-Reneke, 15:00)
Sunday, 22 April
Boland Cavaliers vs Border Bulldogs (Wolfson Stadium, Kwazakhele, 12:30)
EP Elephants vs Western Province (Wolfson Stadium, Kwazakhele, 15:00)
Byes: Golden Lions XV (North), SWD Eagles (South), Free State XV (Central)