After all the negative discussion regarding continued expansion, Super Rugby's return reminded everyone that this is still the premier club competition on the planet.
And despite a galaxy of stars heading for Europe following the four-year World Cup cycle, Super Rugby still continued to produce scintillating moments and matches on an opening weekend which saw all 18 teams take to the field.
The rule changes look to have added even more emphasis on entertainment, whilst the new teams more than held their own for long periods, with the Jagaures from Argentina even managing to win in Bloemfontein.
If the competition can re-produce the excitement from round one throughout the 18 weeks, then this may be the most enthralling Super Rugby season yet. The intent shown by most of the sides is a big reason behind Southern Hemisphere domination at the international level, and if the first nine matches of the season are anything to go by, then that will only continue to grow.
2015 finalists each lose on opening night
The new Super Rugby season got off to a bang on Friday, with last year's finalists both suffering defeats on the opening night of the competition.
In the season opener, new Blues head coach Tana Umaga got his rein off to the perfect start with a 33-31 victory over last season's champions, the Highlanders. The game at Eden Park got off to a frantic start, with five tries scored between the sides in the first half alone.
The visitors led at the break thanks to tries from Ben Smith, Teihorangi Walden and Waisake Naholo, with the Blues responding through Melani Nalai and Blake Gibson, who brushed off three defenders on his way to the try line.
After half-time, Blues fly-half Ihaia West kept the score ticking with his third and fourth penalties, which was followed by a try for second-row Patrick Tuipulotu, scored whilst Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne was in the sin-bin. The 2015 champs ended the scoring in the final minutes with Smith's second try, which was scored from deep, but the Blues held on to prevail by two points.
In the second match of the evening, the Brumbies ripped apart the Hurricanes in a clinical display win 52-10 in Canberra. As one of the tournament favourites, the first match could not have gone better for the Australian side whose forward power was too much for the 'Canes.
The Brumbies had seven different try scorers in the romp, which has really laid down a marker for the season ahead. Tevita Kuridrani, Tomas Cubelli and David Pocock crossed for tries before the break, with Scott Fardy, Scott Moore, Josh Mann-Rea and Sam Carter following in the second-half.
The loss will be a huge wake-up-call for the Hurricanes who were soundly beaten, and only scored one try through centre Ngani Laumape.
Jaguares overcome horror start to claim debut win
There was much anticipation surrounding the Jaguares franchise heading into their maiden Super Rugby season. They certainly didn't disappoint in their first outing, coming from behind to beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
The start of the game could not have gone worse for the new franchise, who found themselves 24-3 down, and with their half-backs both in the sin-bin. The Cheetahs came out strongly, and scored four tries in the opening 25 through captain Francois Venter, Torsten van Jaarsveld, William Small-Smith and a penalty try.
Jaguares captain Agustin Creevy then exploded into life, leading his side back into the game with a number of rampaging runs. One such surge led to a try for scrum-half Martin Landajo, with the skipper then crossing for a five-pointer of his own off the back of a strong driving maul.
Soon after the break, the Jaguares bought the scores level at 24 all thanks to Rodrigo Baez's try, followed by Nicolas Sanchez's conversion.
Two Fred Zelinga penalties then clawed back the lead for the Cheetahs, before the try of the game turned the game in the Argentinian sides favour for th first time. A lose kick was picked up by replacement Matias Orlando who set off on a mazy run through the Cheetahs defence, before flicking an audacious offload inside to Landajo, who scorched away for his second try of the game.
Sanchez added the extras, and then extended the lead to four with a long-range drop goal, before Niel Marais slotted a penalty for the hosts, but the Jaguares hung on for a famous victory in their first Super Rugby outing.
Chiefs knock off Crusaders once more in Christchurch
The Chiefs have now beaten the Crusaders in six of their past seven meetings after a 27-21 victory in Christchurch.
Midway through the second half it looked as though the home side would come out with the win, only for the Chiefs to score 12 unanswered points in the final quarter of the match to prevail.
The hosts led 13-8 at the break thanks to 13 points from new fly-half Richie Mo'unga, including a try which came after the scrum had been turned in the Crusaders favour deep in opposition territory. The Chiefs stayed in touch with a try from debutant Shaun Stevenson, who pick-pocketed David Havili close to his own line before crossing.
After half-time, the Chiefs came out quickest and scored their second try of the game through centre Seta Tamanivalu, who latched onto an inside ball from scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow before side-stepping the covering defender.
Havili then made up for his earlier mistake by crossing for the Crusaders second try of the evening, with Mo'unga missing the conversion, yet then adding a penalty to build a 21-15 lead.
The visitors then looked for a way back into the game, and got the impetus in their attack they needed from replacement centre Anton Leinert-Brown. His strong run helped the Chiefs set up camp in the opposition 22, before the ball was shipped wide to Damian McKenzie who converted his own try.
The clock was close to reaching the 80th minute, but it was the Chiefs who were continuing to attack, and extended their lead through captain Sam Cane, who crossed for his teams fourth and final try in a 27-21 win.
'Tahs and Rebels prevail in all-Australian clashes
On Saturday morning, the Waratahs and Rebels grabbed crucial victories in their matchups against fellow Australian outfits.
The Waratahs were much too strong for the Reds and won 30-10 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. They scored three tries in the opening half through Michael Hooper, Matt Carraro and David Horwitz to take control against a Queensland side who looked incapable of making anything happen on attack.
The visitors finally got on the board when fly-half Jake McIntyre crossed for a try, to somehow bring the sides within 10 points of one another. The lead was soon extended though, when Nick Phipps latched on to Kurtley Beale's excellent chip to move three tries ahead of their opponents and in position for a bouns point.
The new rule, taken from the French league, now means sides get a bonus point for scoring three tries more than their opponents, rather than for simply scoring four tries. The rule has already added an extra edge to some one-sided games, with the Waratahs having to hold out a late Reds surge, which would have taken away the home sides bonus point if they had crossed for their second try.
In the second all-Australian clash, the Rebels won 25-19 away at the Force in Perth. In a match played in swelteringly humid conditions, Rebels debutant Reece Hodge scored a brace of tries to start their season with a much-needed victory.
Without their injured first choice half-backs, the Rebels did enough to claim victory, outscoring their opponents three tries to one. Hodge scored in either half, each time following breaks from Tamati Ellison, with Kiwi signing Adam Thomson their other try scorer.
The Force will be mightily disappointed to lose their opening home game of the season, although they did put in a good performance on the whole. Their only try came thanks to Jono Lance, who accounted for all of his sides 19 points.
Lions, Sharks & Stormers grab wins in African division
Unlike the Jaguares, Japan's Sunwolves could not pick up victory in their first Super Rugby outing. They were beaten 26-13 by the Lions in Tokyo, who claimed a bonus point victory after scoring four tries to their opponents one.
Andries Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan crossed for five-pointers in the first-half, which the Lions won 12-6. Sunwolves fly-half Tusi Pisi scored eight points on his debut, yet it was one to forget after he was sent to the sin-bin midway through the second-half.
That yellow card came soon after Shota Horie had scored the Sunwolves first Super Rugby try, yet the Lions scored two of their own after the break through Jaco Kriel and Lionel Mapoe to bag the bonus point win.
Following on from the Lions, the Sharks and Stormers picked up bonus points of their own in big wins against fellow South African sides.
The Sharks outclassed the Southern Kings in the second half to win 43-8 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, whilst the Stormers were too strong for the Bulls, winning 33-9 at Newlands. Eben Etzebeth, Scarra Ntubeni and Robert du Preez scored tries for the Stormers, while an Odwa Ndungane double was amongst the seven tries the Sharks scored in their comfortable win.