April 19, 2012
BERKELEY - Former Golden Bear Eric Fry has continued to ramp up his training in a recent move to Wellington, New Zealand, where he is training with elite players in an ongoing commitment to improve as a world-class player.
Since the end of his California career in 2010, which concluded with his fourth All-America selection and fourth national collegiate championship, Fry has made six international appearances for the U.S. National Team, including a start against Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
"Eric is one of Cal's modern-day iconic rugby players," said Bears head coach Jack Clark. "He left a significant mark on us and we will be forever grateful. It is no surprise whatsoever that he is pursuing his development so aggressively. E-Fry is all about getting better and working as hard as possible to reach his goals. Crossing an ocean, changing hemispheres, chasing his dream - yep, that's Eric."
The 6-4, 245-pound prop left American shores in February pledging to return for call-ups to assemblies with the national team. On arrival, Fry delved into top-flight training Down Under.
"After the World Cup I decided I wanted focus my life on rugby, to grow as a player so I could be a competitive player and scrummager for the U.S. Eagles," said Fry. "In doing that, I might have a better chance of obtaining a professional contract."
Fry was put in touch with Paddy Gough, the coach for Wellington Old Boys University, who invited him to join the team formed by the 1991 merger of the Wellington College Old Boys and Victoria University.
Gough also arranged for Fry to participate in academy training sessions and scrum practices with the Hurricanes of the Super Rugby league, the top competition in the Southern Hemisphere with 15 teams in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. In addition, Fry was selected to join the Wairarapa Bush, a team in the Heartland Championship national league whose season begins in August.
Continuing his quest to learn from the best, Fry has also been fortunate to train with Mike Cronn, scrum coach for the 2011 RWC champion All Blacks, and his son Dan, another highly respected scrum coach.
"It has been nothing but rugby," Fry commented. With plans to remain in New Zealand until at least the end of October hoping to secure a contract from a professional team in Super Rugby or the ITM, the top tier of New Zealand rugby, Fry credits his Cal experience under Clark and coach Tom Billups for his foundation.
"Coaches Clark and Billups created such a strong culture of commitment and accountability at Cal that I find I'm unable and unwilling to hold myself to any other standard, no matter what team I'm playing for," Fry said.
"Part of that standard is a commitment to the Cal rugby team value of constant performance improvement. Since I have left Cal I often find myself measuring my decisions and life through this goal."
Fry's two younger brothers, freshman Chris and sophomore Jason, continue the family legacy at Cal as current members of the Rugby Bears.