Following the release of the fixture list last week, anticipation for the biggest season yet of the Guinness PRO14 has reached unprecedented levels among fans across the globe.
For the first time ever, all kick-off times and dates have been laid out up to the penultimate weekend of the regular season and this has allowed a predictive glimpse into the future as to what key match-ups may decide the fate of the trophy.
So, what were the key takeaways from the fixture release?
Starting in South Africa
The new season gets underway in incredible fashion on the opening weekend as South Africa plays host to the launching of the competition for the very first time.
For the first time in Guinness PRO14 history, the Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings kick their campaigns off in the familiar surroundings of home.
The Cheetahs play host to last season’s runners-up Glasgow Warriors in Bloemfontein on Friday September 27 while Isuzu Southern Kings welcome Cardiff Blues to Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth a day later.
Both sides, in fact, have three home games on the spin at the start of the season representing a brilliant opportunity to build early momentum.
Inspired signings and an early home run will get have them running 🏃 🏃
Finalist contenders? pic.twitter.com/O9Hev8jam5
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) July 19, 2019
Boxing Day battles
After a year’s absence last season, the traditional Boxing Day Welsh derbies return to the calendar in 2019/2020.
In hugely exciting news for Welsh rugby fans, Cardiff Blues will face Dragons at home while Scarlets host Ospreys on a mega Boxing Day of rugby rivalries.
The Welsh sides collide earlier in the calendar too during a bumper festive period on December 21 when Dragons host Scarlets and Ospreys play host to the Blues.
The new year is also kicked off in style on January 3 when the Blues face Scarlets and a day later Dragons host Ospreys.
More 3pm kick-offs
Guinness PRO14 is going back to its roots next season as traditional 3pm kick-off times in the UK and Ireland make more of a presence.
In good news for fans in the UK and Ireland, the number of matches starting in the middle of the afternoon will increase by 75 percent on last season, with 30 games scheduled for that time slot in the new campaign.
ICYMI: The #GuinnessPRO14 fixtures for 2019/20 with dates and KO’s up to R20 were released today
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) July 17, 2019
When former champions collide
It is always a mouth-watering prospect when Guinness PRO14 champions collide and, given there are seven past winners since the play-off system was introduced in this season’s line-up, there should be some compelling viewing coming up.
First things first, on November 30 the Warriors clash with Leinster for the first time since their epic battle in last season’s final in what should be a thrilling rematch.
There will be ten Guinness PRO14 titles on show when Leinster host Ospreys in Round 2 in a hugely anticipated clash between the two most successful sides in the competition’s history.
Round 9 will see another instalment in one of the most heart-stopping rivalries in the competition when Munster host provincial challengers Leinster, the clubs having first locked horns all the way back in 1879.