World Rugby, the global governing body of rugby union, has announced that Australia and Japan will stage fixtures during its 2016-17 Women’s Sevens Series.
The Australian city of Sydney will host its leg on February 3-4, 2017, with Kitakyushu in Japan to stage a round on April 22-23.
The first round of the six-leg Women’s Sevens Series takes place in Dubai on December 1-2, with Sydney and Kitakyushu pencilled in as the two hosts immediately after. Victoria in Canada will play host on May 27-28 before the series travels to Clermont-Ferrand in France on the weekend of June 24-25.
Both the Dubai and Sydney legs will take place over the same weekend as the men’s series. World Rugby confirmed that a sixth round would be added to the women’s schedule in due course.
“Combining a women's event with the men's tournament in Sydney as well as a new venue in Kitakyushu will add to already established tournaments like Dubai, Victoria and Clermont-Ferrand,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said. “I look forward to seeing more and more women and girls get involved in the game and enjoy these fantastic tournaments over the 2016-17 season.”
Rugby sevens benefited from global exposure at the recent summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where the sport was included on the programme of events for the first time. The Australian women’s team defeated New Zealand 24-17 in the final of the competition to claim the first-ever rugby sevens Olympic gold medal.
Australia is also the reigning Women’s Sevens Series champion, having finished top of the table ahead of New Zealand in the 2015-16 campaign.