Cheetahs chief executive Harold Verster said the Bloemfontein club and Southern Kings should be seen as trailblazers who have opened up a "whole new ball game" for South African rugby by joining an expanded Pro14 tournament.
After being faced with uncertain futures when they were axed from Super Rugby, Cheetahs and Southern Kings have taken up the opportunity to join what was previously the Pro12.
Verster sees Tuesday's announcement as the start of an exciting new era not only for the two clubs who will lock horns with European opposition, but for rugby in South Africa on the whole.
"This is a whole new ball game for rugby in South Africa and we're proud to be trailblazers." he said.
"There is a lot of excitement around the union about the opportunity and we're already looking forward to kick off.
"We're excited about taking the Cheetahs' famous brand of all-out attacking rugby to Europe and bringing top European clubs to South Africa.
"The Free State is one of the great nurseries of rugby in South Africa and this is an exciting prospect for our young players - to test themselves against top players from the northern hemisphere."
Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, echoed Verster's sentiments.
He said: "This development is as exciting as the launch of Super Rugby itself back in 1996. It marks the start of a new adventure for rugby in South Africa with a number of exciting opportunities.
"It will not be without its challenges in aligning with a competition in a different part of the calendar and in very different playing conditions; but it is also a fantastic opportunity for South African rugby to widen our rugby horizons."