Men have long played a world rugby sevens circuit and women will next year join the parade when they play in the first women's sevens world series next year with tournaments in Dubai, USA, China and the Netherlands.
With rugby sevens on the Olympic programme for 2016 in Rio, the IRB moved to introduce a women's circuit as well as June's world cup in Moscow.
The series will see 20 ranked teams participating in the inaugural competition with rounds in the UAE (Dubai), US (Houston), China (Guangzhou) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam). It mirrors the men's series, with each 12-team event featuring six core teams who will play across all four events and six teams who will be invited based on regional tournament rankings.
New Zealand are one of six core teams in the inaugural series alongside Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands and the US.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said the series was an important commitment to women's rugby at the international level.
"This is an exciting time for women's rugby on the global stage, and the new women's sevens world series provides the ideal platform to develop and grow this game around the world," he said.
"The tournaments are an important part of the plan we have in place with the support of High Performance Sport New Zealand, to build towards success in Rio de Janeiro in 2016."
New Zealand women's coach Sean Horan said the series was an excellent opportunity to compete against the best in the world.
"This is hugely exciting. The tournaments give us an excellent opportunity to test ourselves and to develop our team as we build towards next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow and the longer term goals for Rio in 2016."
A New Zealand squad will assemble for a training camp in Auckland early next month as they prepare for the Dubai tournament.
IRB women's sevens world series
Round 1: Dubai, Nov 30-Dec 1
Round 2: Houston, Feb 1-2, 2013
Round 3: Guangzhou, March 30-31, 2013
Round 4: Amsterdam, May 17-18 , 2013
Rugby World Cup sevens, Moscow, June 28-30, 2013