So, the Guinness PRO14 fixtures have been released for the 2019-20 season and they show some notable changes to the schedule.
There are some new developments and some returns to rugby tradition.
Here are the key points.
Later start...later finish
The PRO14 season kicks off later than usual on the weekend of September 27-28 because of the World Cup and won’t end until mid June.
For the first time, the campaign kicks off on South African soil, with the Cheetahs hosting Glasgow in Port Elizabeth on the opening day.
The season will culminate in the grand final, which will be staged in Wales for the first time, with Cardiff City Stadium the setting on June 20, 2020.
Saturday afternoon rugby
In a change from last season, the competition organisers and broadcasters have opted to schedule more games on Saturday afternoons.
Last term, such fixtures were few and far between as new TV partners Premier Sports choose to steer away from the time slot.
But now there has been a change of heart.
The new fixture list shows the number of Saturday 3pm kick-off times in the UK and Ireland has increased by 75 per cent from last season.
No fewer than 30 games have been scheduled for that time slot in the new campaign, with 14 of them involving Welsh teams.
Explaining the move, tournament director David Jordan said it works well for fans with families and for the broadcast audience.
It’s a decision that is likely to divide opinion.
Some fans prefer the traditional Saturday afternoon kick-offs, but others will point out it means a clash with grass-roots games, which will leave some community club players and supporters unable to attend the regional matches.
It will be revealing to see what the attendances are like for the fixtures.
Perhaps the biggest change of all involves the Welsh derby double header at the Principality Stadium.
Judgement Day VIII will see a radical shift, with the Ospreys and Scarlets being the “home” teams for the first time.
For the first seven years of the event, the derbies have been home fixtures for Cardiff Blues and the Dragons.
But, as part of a new four-year deal with the WRU, the two west Wales sides will surrender home fixtures every other season.
And they will do that for the first time this coming term.
So on Saturday, April 18, 2020, the Ospreys will be “home” to the Dragons (3pm), with the Scarlets “hosting” Cardiff Blues in the second fixture (5.15pm).
That will be in round 17 of the PRO14 fixtures, rather than on the final round 21 weekend, as has been the case in the last two seasons.
In another change, the ticket profits will be split differently, with the home teams pocketing 80 per cent and the away sides taking 20 per cent.
Boxing Day is back!
There’s good news for fans with Welsh Boxing Day derbies returning.
Last year, there weren’t any regional head-to-heads on December 26, much to the disappointment of supporters.
This was due to fixture congestion over the holiday period.
But now the traditional Boxing Day games are back, with Cardiff Blues hosting the Dragons at the Arms Park (3pm) and the Scarlets entertaining the Ospreys (5.15pm).
There will two further rounds of PRO14 Welsh derbies during the festive period.
On Saturday, December 21, the Dragons welcome the Scarlets to Rodney Parade, while the Ospreys take on the Blues at the Liberty Stadium.
Then on Friday, January 3, it’s the Blues against the Scarlets at the Arms Park, with the Dragons locking horns with the Ospreys in Newport the following afternoon.
One of the big criticisms of the PRO14 has been the number of games that are played on international weekends, which leads to depleted teams going up against each other.
It impacts more upon the cross-border competition than the leagues in England and France because of the heavy Test demands on certain teams.
Tournament organisers have worked hard to stay clear of international weekends this time around.
And the end result is there will only be fixtures on one Six Nations weekend - February 22.
In addition, you don’t have four rounds of autumn internationals in November this year.
However, there is a clash with Wales’ game against the Barbarians on November 30, with PRO14 fixtures that weekend.
And, of course, teams will be without star names for early season league matches as they will be away on World Cup duty.
Organisers have opted to schedule the first five rounds of the PRO14 during the global tournament to help reduce the number of games on Six Nations weekends.
Due to kick-off times in Japan, there won’t be any direct clashes with league fixtures, in terms of fans being able to watch both.
All 152 PRO14 matches will be shown live by host broadcaster Premier Sports, with HD coverage on both channels 1 and 2.
The likes of Martyn Williams, Sam Warburton, Shane Williams and Jim Hamilton will be adding their expertise, alongside presenters and pundits including Ross Harries, Eddie Butler and Sean Holley.
In addition, FreeSports UK and S4C will provide live and deferred Free-To-Air coverage throughout the season.
There will be a live game involving a Welsh team on S4C most weekends, with all four of our regions featuring on the channel within the opening five rounds.
S4C’s first live match of the season will see the Scarlets host Connacht on Saturday, September 28, in Brad Mooar’s debut league match in charge of the west Wales region.
After a successful first season, DAZN will broadcast every game live in Italy.
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There will be a fresh look to the Guinness PRO14 conferences.
They remained the same for the first two years after the format was introduced following the expansion of the competition with two South African sides coming on board.
But now the structure has been overhauled, with the two sections re-shaped, based on how teams fared last season.
It will mean a new look to the fixture list, with some sides who have only played each other once over the past two years now having home and away encounters.
Teams have been ranked within their countries, dependent on their points tally at the end of last season.
Even though Leinster were crowned champions, they are Ireland 2 as Munster accumulated more points in the regular campaign.
So this is how the rejigged conferences will look.
Glasgow (Scotland 1)
Leinster (Ireland 2)
Ulster (Ireland 3)
Ospreys (Wales 1)
Dragons (Wales 4)
Zebre (Italy 2)
Cheetahs (South Africa 1)
Edinburgh (Scotland 2)
Munster (Ireland 1)
Connacht (Ireland 4)
Cardiff Blues (Wales 2)
Scarlets (Wales 3)
Benetton (Italy 1)
Southern Kings (South Africa 2)