Eagle Q&A with Eric Fry

England-based professional and Eagle prop Eric Fry will be one of 11 players from the Rugby World Cup 2011 squad to cross the pond to compete in this year's World Cup. Since being introduced as an Eagle in 2011, the former Cal All-American has been capped 32 times - including 24 starts.

Prior to making his second World Cup appearance, Fry will take to the pitch at Chicago's Soldier Field for the second time after starting against the All Blacks last November. This time, Fry and his fellow Eagles will challenge Australia at the iconic gridiron pitch Saturday, Sept. 5, at 6:30 p.m. CT - live on NBC Sports Network.

USA Rugby: You played in both the second and third row at Cal, transitioning to an international prop. How did the position change come about, and do you miss playing elsewhere in the forwards?

Eric: My college coach, Jack Clark, recognized that my physical attributes are more suited to the front row. So with each consecutive year at Cal my number got smaller and smaller until I found my way to tight head prop. It wasn't a successful transition, however, and after that season I went back to lock for the remainder of my time at Cal. Then after I graduated from Cal I was invited to play with the USA Selects in the ARC, but the caveat was that I would once again have to play in the front row. And since then I haven't looked back. It's been a long, tough journey, but I've committed myself to improving, and things are finally starting to come together. The only thing I really miss about the second row, and especially the back row, is all the extra energy you have from not having to scrum.


Return to Soldier Field to meet the Wallabies of Australia >>

USA Rugby: Tell us something about the set scrum that the casual rugby fan might not now?

Eric: People focus quite a bit on the battle between props, specifically the tight head versus loose head contest, but they probably undervalue the impact a good hooker can have for a dominant pack.


USA Rugby: You're currently playing your club rugby with Newcastle Falcons of the Aviva Premiership. Give us an idea of what the typical week ahead of a Saturday match looks like for you?

Eric: Monday morning we have a prehab session followed by a team meeting and team field training. Lunch is provided at the club, which is followed by weights and units review, and the day finishes with another meal.

Tuesday morning we're in early for prehab then scrum clinic for the front row (light intensity skills work). Units preview follows this, then a little snack break before weights, which is immediately followed by a units field training involving scrums, lineouts, and usually some attack/defense drills. Then lunch, which is followed by a team preview and team training session. Again, the day finishes with a meal.

Wednesday is an off day.

Thursdays are usually a half day consisting of rehab, scrum clinic, match squad meeting, and weights, followed with a team field session and ending with food.

Friday is short and sharp with one last meeting before our captains run, and the day finishes up with another meal at the club.


USA Rugby: The 2015 Rugby World Cup will be your second. How is the team's preparation and mentality different this summer as it was leading up to the 2011 World Cup?

Eric: The biggest difference in my mind is the amount of continuous time we've been able to spend with each other this summer. In 2011, we spent four weeks together in June for the Churchill Cup. Then had all of July off before another month together for pre-World Cup games in August.

This summer we'll have nearly been together for over two months straight before we head over to England. This is massive for our continuity on the field, and it's a big factor to creating team camaraderie. Furthermore, it really allows us to make adjustments to our structures and patterns of play, and it allows us to try out different match-day lineups. What we've seen over the last couple months is some much improved footy which has resulted in some great wins, and gives us some great momentum going into the RWC.


USA Rugby: Former teammates and another Cal All-American turned International prop, Mike MacDonald, is back in Berkeley as a part of the Golden Bears coaching staff. How do you envision yourself staying involved in rugby once it's time to hang up the boots as a player?

Eric: It's great to see Big Mac back at Cal continuing such a great tradition. Rugby has given me so much, so I definitely will like to coach when I'm done. But I'm not sure I'll be looking to do it as a profession.


USA Rugby: What's your favorite 'cheat-day' meal?

Eric: Being on the lighter side as a prop, I probably indulge myself with more cheat meals than I should. So, that's a tough question. In Philly, I might have had a couple amazing cheesesteaks during our stay there, and I know I'll be testing out some of Chicago's iconic deep dish pizza spots. But my favorite cheat food would have to be donuts, although I don't tend to make a meal out of them - at least not very often.


USA Rugby: What's your favorite post-match beverage?

Eric: It's not high performance at all, but I love a Guinness. It's so smooth and heavy it helps me feel replenished after a game.


USA Rugby: Which teammate would you least like to room with on tour and why?

Eric: You're really trying to put me in some hot water here! But if you're going to force me, it would probably have to be John Quill. I think he might have digestive issues because every time I go into his room it smells of farts. Being on the cleanly side I don't think I could deal with that.


USA Rugby: What are your personal and team goals / aspirations between now and the start of the Rugby World Cup?

Eric: I have a few, but my biggest one is that I want the team to be confident that they can count on me to provide a stable platform off scrums.