The Cheetahs and Sharks have entered a cooperation agreement that will see the two franchises exchanging players as well as supporting each other on a broader front it was announced on Wednesday.
Both franchises believe while this has obvious benefits for both, the move is also in the interests of rugby in South Africa as a whole.
The agreement will see the Cheetahs and Sharks making some players available to each other on request but only when competitions they are playing in do not overlap.
Two Cheetahs players, scrumhalves Ruan Pienaar and Tian Meyer will immediately join up with the Sharks for the United Rugby Championship (URC) although Meyer will return to the Cheetahs after the Sharks' outbound tour is over.
With Springbok selection and injuries ruling out three of the Sharks' scrumhalves, Pienaar will be involved for a longer period in the competition and his invaluable experience and knowledge of Irish playing conditions will be hugely beneficial and a great boost to the Sharks prospects in Europe.
In return, the Sharks will make some of their players available on loan to the Cheetahs for international and Currie Cup games that the Cheetahs are preparing for.
"The international disruption of rugby by Covid-19 and its economic consequences necessitates the rebuilding and strengthening of this wonderful game. This requires innovative plans to retain good players and coaches, to maintain performance and to ultimately achieve. The cooperation agreement would help both teams and offer them flexibility," said Harold Verster and Eduard Coetzee, the respective CEOs of the Cheetahs and the Sharks.
The Sharks get their URC campaign underway on 25 September, away to Munster.