The Vodacom Bulls are in action at home in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon, and the Emirates Lions play their first tour match of the new season in Wales later that evening. All matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Zebre Parma host the Cell Sharks on Friday evening in Italy, where an interesting encounter is on the cards to get the weekend’s full round of fixtures underway, with the match starting at 18h30 at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma.

The Italians ended last season with only one win to their name but they pushed the more fancied Leinster – who topped the overall standings last season – all the way in an opening round 31-29 defeat to the Irish outfit last weekend.

The Cell C Sharks have announced a strong looking travelling squad, led by Springbok prop Thomas du Toit, for the start of their away leg in Parma, this despite the absence of numerous current Springboks as well as almost a dozen injured players, including Springbok Curwin Bosch and new recruit Vincent Tshituka.

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natalians have roped in the much-travelled Fred Zeilinga to alleviate their flyhalf crisis after they lost two of their No 10s in Bosch and Lionel Cronje before the tour, with both picking up injuries during the pre-season.

Following their Friday evening clash with Zebre, the Cell C Sharks head off to Wales and Ireland for matches against the Dragons and Leinster respectively.

The DHL Stormers, winners of last season’s inaugural title, enter the fray on Saturday afternoon when they host Irish side Connacht from 14h30 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.

The Capetonians are hoping for a good start to their title defence on Saturday afternoon in scenic Stellenbosch in their clash with Connacht, who lost their first-round fixture 36-10 to Irish rivals Ulster in Belfast.

The DHL Stormers are still without last season’s top try-scorer, Leolin Zas, due to rehabilitation for an ankle injury, while Ruhan Nel sustained a neck blow in a pre-season friendly. Junior Springbok midfielder Suleiman Hartzenberg is earmarked to make his debut in Stellenbosch.

The Vodacom Bulls, last year’s beaten finalists, will be aiming to build on their opening-round 31-15 win over the Emirates Lions when they welcome Scottish outfit Edinburgh to Loftus Versfeld, where kick off is set for 14h30.

Director of Rugby Jake White committed his long-term future to the Vodacom Bulls last week by signing a new contract through to 2027, and he got his light blue jerseys off to a winning start over the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.

However, the men from Pretoria will have a tough nut to crack in their second-round game against Edinburgh, who managed to outplay the Dragons 44-6 in a superb home display last week.

The Emirates Lions will be the last SA side in action this weekend when they face the Ospreys late Saturday evening in Swansea, where kick-off is scheduled for 20h35.

Although they finished outside of the top-eight last season, Ospreys were the Welsh Shield winners with 10 wins from their 18 matches, and they lost only twice at home in 2021/22, which will make them a tough nut to crack in Wales for the men from Johannesburg.

Match information:

Zebre Parma vs Cell C Sharks
Date: Friday, 23 September
Venue: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
SA Time: 18h30
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
TV: SuperSport

Vodacom Bulls vs Edinburgh
Date: Saturday, 24 September
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
SA Time: 14h30
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales)
TV: SuperSport

DHL Stormers vs Connacht
Date: Saturday, 24 September
Venue: Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
SA Time: 14h30
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
TV: SuperSport

Ospreys vs Emirates Lions
Date: Saturday, 24 September
Venue: Swansea.Com Stadium, Swansea
SA Time: 20h35
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
TV: SuperSport

Other Vodacom United Rugby Championship fixtures – Round 2 (SA times):

Friday, 23 September
20h30: Glasgow Warriors vs Cardiff (Scotstoun Stadium)
20h35: Leinster vs Benetton (RDS Arena)

Saturday, 24 September
14h00: Scarlets vs Ulster (Parc Y Scarlets)

Sunday, 25 September
16h00: Dragons vs Munster (Rodney Parade)