2018 OBH / Photo: Jackie Finlan
The Aon Uni 7s Series is readying for its second year, and the Australian tournament has once again drawn international athletes. 2017 returners Abby Gustaitis (USA/Canberra), Saskia Morgan (USA/Tasmania) and Sydnee Watanabe (UC Davis/Tasmania) have been named to 2018 squads, and now Stanford graduate Olivia Bernadel-Huey (’18) has added even more reason to follow the overseas competition.
Known as “OBH,” the Oakland, Calif., native played rugby at Bishop O’Dowd for three years and then worked into the Stanford University backline during freshman year. Fast and wily, Bernadel-Huey injected adventure and creativity into the Cardinal game, and was simply a fun player to watch. As the needs of the team evolved, the three-year captain moved to flyhalf, where an impressive rugby IQ was put to good use.
2015 OBH vs. Central Washington / Photo: Jackie Finlan
As junior year closed, Bernadel-Huey decided to pursue international playing opportunities after graduation.
“I figured now would be the best time for me to try to do this, while I’m transitioning between undergrad and long-term career goals, potentially graduate school,” Bernadel-Huey explained. “I’ve been lucky enough to have tons of support from family and friends, as well as the support of my Stanford coaches, especially Josh [Sutcliff]. … I’m very grateful for all his help during this process as I explored different opportunities.”
Sutcliffe grew up in Australia and connected his five-eighth with the team manager from the University of Adelaide in his hometown. It was the right fit, and Bernadel-Huey’s post-graduation plans pointed toward south Australia. There was one concession, however.
2016 OBH vs. Cal / Photo: Jackie Finlan
“I was able to stream some of the [Rugby] World Cup [Sevens],” Bernadel-Huey noted the July 2018 San Francisco fixture. “It was a bit bittersweet though. I had been hoping to attend it in person since I’m from Oakland, but unfortunately the timeline of things just didn’t quite line up. Definitely still worth it to have the chance to play here though.”
Originally OBH had wanted to play some 15s with a local club, Brighton, but a broken nose during the first training session meant no contact until the 7s series. The University of Adelaide Romas are ramping up for the Aon Uni 7s Series, which begins Aug. 25 at the University of Tasmania (where Morgan and Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference mate Watanabe are stationed). Twenty-three players have been named to the extended squad.
2017 OBH vs. Arizona / Photo: Jackie Finlan
“I’m hoping to have the opportunity to represent the squad at some point over the course of the five-tournament series,” Bernadel-Huey aspired. “It’s been exciting to play in a new environment, especially among many players who are coming over from touch rugby and have such sharp ball-handling skills.”
The series does well to engage the country’s top players. While the majority of the Rugby World Cup Sevens players have not been named to university sides, two Bronze medalists – Charlotte Caslick (Bond) and Yasmin Meakes (Canberra) – have committed to the series. Additionally, Lauren Brown (Bond), Lily Dick (Griffith), Katie Harrison (Macquarie), Grace Kaihau (Queensland), Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea (Griffith) and Mahalia Murphy (Adelaide) are all listed in Australia’s pool of developmental players and will push the standard of play.
2018 OBH vs. UC Davis / Photo: Jackie Finlan
The series ends on Oct. 20-21 at the University of Adelaide, but Bernadel-Huey’s adventures are just beginning.
“Fortunately, I have a job that gives me the flexibility of working remotely,” OBH reported. “So while I’ll be returning home in November after the Aon series ends, I’m in the process of looking into playing some 15s in New Zealand during the second half of next year.”
Follow the Aon Uni 7s competition: www.rugby.com.au/competitions/uni-7s.
AON UNI 7s 2018 SERIES
Aug 25-26 @ Univ Tasmania, Hobart
Sept 8-9 @ Univ Canberra, Canberra
Sept 22-23 @ Univ Queensland, Brisbane
Oct 6-7 @ Bond Univ, Gold Coast
Oct 20-21 @ Univ Adelaide, Adelaide