Olympic gold medallists Australia and Rugby World Cup 2019 and Olympic Games 2020 hosts Japan are the latest countries to host rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, which gets underway in early December.
With the women's game having inspired millions around the world during the Olympic Games in Rio, the six-leg series will kick off alongside the men's equivalent in Dubai in early December, before joining the Sydney Sevens in February.
It then moves to a new location in Kitakyushu, Japan, in April before heading to Victoria, Canada, in May and then the series finale will take place in Clermont-Ferrand, France, at the end of June.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "The HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series has grown rapidly since its inaugural year in 2012-13 and we are already seeing the benefits from its inclusion in the Olympic Games as millions of sports fans around the world have engaged and remarked upon the outstanding sporting spectacle that is women's sevens.
"Combining a women's event with the men's tournament in Sydney as well as new venue in Kitakyushu will add to already established tournaments like Dubai, Victoria and Clermont-Ferrand. 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."
Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events for HSBC, said: "As a long-standing partner of rugby sevens, HSBC watched the sport's successful Olympic debut in Rio with huge pride. The growth of the women's game in particular is fundamental to the development of the sport, which is why we are committed to working closely with World Rugby and the local unions to ensure the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016-17 helps to connect with new players, new countries and new audiences.”
Chairman of the Japan Rugby Football Union Noriyuki Sakamoto said: "We believe that the women's series being held in some of the world's iconic cities will be another great showcase of the game. We are honoured to be awarded one of the rounds for the first time and we fully appreciate the responsibility as one of the host unions. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the host city of Kitakyushu for its cooperation and commitment.
"Tokyo previously hosted a leg of the men's series and that experience will be important as we prepare to hold a successful women's tournament. While it is regrettable that Japan women's team lost their core status for the 2016-17 series, the players are already preparing to come back stronger. The JRFU will also work on continued development of rugby sevens in Japan to ensure our players can compete consistently at the highest level.”
At the end yet another record-breaking season for the series, Australia's women made history by becoming the first Australian team to be crowned series champions in Clermont-Ferrand in May, before beating New Zealand in the Olympic Games to win gold in Rio, igniting a new passion for the game and creating millions of new fans across the world.
The series itself saw record numbers of social media engagement with fans across the world while the action was broadcast across the globe.
HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016-17 dates and venues:
Dubai: 1-2 December, 2016
Sydney: 3-4 February, 2017
Kitakyushu: 22-23 April
Victoria/Langford: 27-28 May
Clermont-Ferrand: 24-25 June
Note: It is intended that a sixth round will be added to the schedule in due course.