Women's 7s ramps up ahead of Tokyo tilt

Murray Wenzel
The women's world series will expand and sevens now is a higher priority for the Olympic champions

Two legs will be added to the next women's rugby sevens world circuit while the domestic program will receive a shot in the arm ahead of Australia's Olympic defence in Tokyo.

The expansion to eight women's world series rounds - six to be played alongside their male counterparts - is being viewed as a nod to the improvement in standard and another step towards equality in the code.

Rugby Australia will also invest in the women's program, most notably through a recruitment drive in a concerted effort to defend their Rio gold.

"The additional rounds added to the series is an exciting development for women's sevens and changes the nature of the series to make it more in line with the men," Australian women's coach John Manenti said.

"We have seen how much the standard of the women's series has improved over the last few years, so to have improvement recognised with more rounds is a testament to the standard and growth of women's rugby.

"The renaissance of women's sport in Australia makes us leaders in this space and we want athletes to know that rugby is a viable career option for them and to realise their Olympic dream."

Australia are also the defending world champions, hanging on after a fast start to win their second world series last year.

But New Zealand have won an incredible 48 straight games to emerge as the clear No.1 side since losing the gold medal game to Australia in Brazil.

Manenti anticipates a recruitment drive, targeting fresh talent for the country's second-tier sevens tournament to be played later this year, will help bridge that gap.

"I look forward to seeing a robust Aon University Sevens Series this year as the competition for spots from old and new players heats up," Manenti said.

Australia's women sit fourth - two points off the second-placed United States - with three rounds remaining this season.

Australia's men are a distant sixth, with the top four from each tournament earning automatic qualification in Tokyo.

Sevens World Series 2019-2020

* Colorado (women's standalone)

* Dubai Sevens (combined)

* Cape Town (combined)

* New Zealand (combined)

* Sydney (combined)

* Vancouver (combined)

* Hong Kong (combined)

* Singapore (men's standalone)

* Langford (women's standalone)

* London (men's standalone)

* Paris (combined)