South Africa’s United Rugby Championship teams are set for a home fixtures bonanza in the new year after the URC schedule up until round 18 was confirmed on Monday.
The Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Stormers were set to return to action in the first week of January in a single round of fixtures in the UK and Italy, but that has now changed and they will instead resume with local derbies on January 22.
The Lions will host the Sharks and the Bulls host the Stormers on that first weekend, before a double header of inland and coastal derbies then follows, with the Lions hosting the Bulls and then heading to Pretoria the next weekend, while the Sharks host the Stormers and then travel to Cape Town.
The four local derby rounds then finish off with the Lions playing host to the Stormers and the Bulls welcoming the Sharks on February 12.
All four SA teams then head back to the UK and Italy for one round of action that will see the Lions up against Leinster and the Bulls taking on Zebre on February 25, while the Stormers play Connacht and the Sharks take on Benetton on the February 26.
Finally, the moment all the South African franchises have been looking forward to will take centre stage in March as they are set to host the UK and Italian sides for two straight months.
The rescheduled sixth and seventh rounds, which were postponed earlier this month due to the new Covid variant discovered by SA scientists, are set to take place on the weekends of 11-13 and 18-20 March.
The SA sides will then host another two rounds of foreign action, before enjoying a single round of local derbies, and then host a final two rounds of teams from the UK and Italy at the end of April.
They will then head back overseas in May for their next tour to the UK and Italy with those fixtures still to be confirmed in January.