As a result, the fixtures have been amended. Eight local unions will each play four matches – two at home and two away – from Friday, 26 February until Sunday, 28 March.

The series of warm-up encounters has been specifically designed by the Rugby Department of SA Rugby and the competing unions to meet teams’ high-performance needs against the landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prepare the players for the season ahead.

Instead of weekly encounters, matches will be played on a ten-day cycle to manage COVID testing protocols. The eight teams have been split into two groups and will play cross-pool matches.

Pool A consists of the Vodacom Bulls, Lions, Tafel Lager Griquas and Toyota Cheetahs, and they will play the four sides in Pool B, namely the Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, New Nation Pumas and Eastern Province.

Updated preparation series fixtures (home teams named first, all matches live on SuperSport)

Friday, 26 February
19h00: Lions v New Nation Pumas

Saturday 27 February
17h15: DHL Stormers v Toyota Cheetahs

Sunday 28 February
15h00: Vodacom Bulls v Eastern Province
17h15: Cell C Sharks v Tafel Lager Griquas

Tuesday 9 March
16h45: Tafel Lager Griquas v DHL Stormers
19h00: New Nation Pumas v Vodacom Bulls

Wednesday 10 March
16h45: Eastern Province v Lions
19h00: Toyota Cheetahs v Cell C Sharks

Friday 19 March
16h45: New Nation Pumas v Toyota Cheetahs
19h00: Vodacom Bulls v DHL Stormers

Saturday 20 March
14h00: Eastern Province v Tafel Lager Griquas
16h15: Lions v Cell C Sharks

Friday 26 March
19h00: Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls

Saturday 27 March
15h00: Tafel Lager Griquas v New Nation Pumas
17h15: DHL Stormers v Lions

Sunday 28 March
15h00: Toyota Cheetahs v Eastern Province