Rugby Australia will boost its professional sevens ranks after World Rugby announced the women's sevens world series would expand to eight tournaments in the season leading into the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
The Hong Kong, New Zealand, Paris and Cape Town legs of the men's world series will become combined men's and women's tournaments in 2019-20 season, adding two extra legs to the current six-leg series.
Glendale in the United States and Langford in Canada will be the remaining women's-only legs on the circuit, with the other six to be combined events from the 2019-2020 season onwards.
The women's series will now start in Glendale before five straight combined tournaments in Dubai, Cape Town, New Zealand, Sydney and Hong Kong, followed by the final leg in Langford and a last combined tournament in Paris.
Australia's women's coach John Manenti said expansion was an exciting development and would lead to expanded squads.
"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," Manenti said.
"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.
"More rounds means that we can create more professional opportunities for elite players and 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."
RA chief executive Raelene Castle said the expansion presented more opportunities to grow the game.
"The increase in rounds creates more playing opportunities for our squad and changes the nature of the series by extending its duration," Castle said.
"It will also provide more broadcast content for fans and more opportunities to grow the game at home.
"Equality between our female and male players is something that Rugby Australia has strived for since we made the HSBC Sydney 7s a combined tournament and it’s fantastic for the global game that there will be more joint tournaments across the series next season."