World Rugby announced a new look men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for 2019 to 2023 on Wednesday, confirming no fewer than six combined men’s and women’s rounds – and confirming that a women’s event had been added to the South African leg of the series for the first time.

The much anticipated – and highly successful – HSBC Cape Town Sevens will be one of the dual tournaments alongside Dubai, Hamilton, Sydney, Hong Kong and Paris.

SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, welcomed the decision taken by World Rugby.

“This is a wonderful addition to the already very successful HSBC Cape Town Sevens and a massive boost for women’s rugby in South Africa,” said Roux.

“We are constantly looking at ways of improving the fan experience and I know many of our loyal supporters will be pleasantly surprised when they see the levels of skill and commitment shown by the women.

“Apart from that, it will create another opportunity for Paul Delport and the Springbok Women’s Sevens team to play together in a tough tournament, but also to play in front of their family and friends, something that doesn’t happen often.”

The dates for the 2019/20 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be confirmed in due course by World Rugby, after which SA Rugby will announce ticket details for the revamped HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This is an exciting time for sevens as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is set to break new ground with more combined rounds than ever before on the circuit, as Cape Town, Hamilton and Hong Kong welcome women’s world series teams for the first time from next season.

“We are delighted to see the women’s series expand to eight rounds over the next four-year cycle, a historic move that will provide more high quality competitive international playing opportunities for women’s sevens teams, a core strand of our Accelerating the Global Development of Women in Rugby plan.”

Rugby Sevens continues to grow, engage and attract global audiences. In 2018 the World Series saw record-breaking fan engagement figures with an increase of 60 per cent across video views when compared with 2017 and attracted over 749,800 attendees to events globally.

The growth trend continued in broadcast viewing figures with Nielsen research recording a 39 per cent increase in live broadcast audiences across both men’s and women’s series, from nine million in 2017 to 12.6 million viewers in 2018.

Next season’s series will also lead into the Olympic Games which takes place from 27 July to 1 August in Tokyo, Japan. With the newly expanded women’s series, qualified teams will have more high quality, competitive playing opportunities than ever before as they prepare to participate at Tokyo 2020.