SACRAMENTO — When the USA and Canada rugby teams meet Saturday in the capital city, the match will be a homecoming for four area Eagles — including Davis “kid” Eric Fry.
Fry joins former Jesuit High teammates Blaine Scully and Louis Stanfill and Davis High grad Thretton Palamo as the American team finishes its Nations Pacific Cup campaign with a Canuck squad that has given the U.S. men fits.
Fry — who was a four-time All-American at Cal — took time from his busy local schedule (the Eagles are training in Sacramento this week) to check in with The Enterprise.
Fry, whose brothers Jason and Chris have added to the Golden Bear rugby legacy in recent years, said after his introduction to American football, he quickly moved to rugby because players “learn all the skills … get to exhibit offense, defense, passing, scoring.”
Once he began knocking around pitches for the Marauders in high school —before graduating in 2005 — Fry, 26, was hooked:
“I liked the camaraderie. Rugby is a very social sport. And I loved the travel. Even in high school, I was going around the world (on the 2004 U19 U.S. team). The Junior World Cup was in South Africa that year.”
Fry’s Jesuit squad earned a national championship in 2004. Once he hit Berkeley, Fry helped the Bears capture four more national championships.
Recently, Fry signed with the Newcastle Falcons (England) of the Aviva Premiership after a couple of seasons with the London Scottish.
For now, his homecoming is one that has his family mobilized …
“They love it. We’re really happy to get a game basically at home,” says the son of Davisites Patrick and Renate Fry.
The 6-foot-3, 213-pound prop (a rugby position) adds that his folks have always been supportive and “try to make it to one or two of the games, if they’re not too far away.
“When my mom heard we’d be in Sacramento, she bought a block of 50 tickets.
“Those quickly went, then it was 75 tickets. Now I think it’s up to 110,” the personable Fry says with a laugh.
Playing with Scully and Stanfill has been another welcome aspect of being an Eagle — and now the trio of former Marauders are solidly focused on Canada.
“We need to put in an 80-minute performance,” explains Scully, who plays for Leiscester FC when not in red, white and blue. “Sometimes you’re under pressure, sometimes you’re putting them under pressure. So we need to maximize the amount of time we put them under pressure to try to nullify their pressure.”
Makes sense, but the Canadians have a large advantage in the all-time series, and have won seven straight matchups, including each of the three matches against the U.S. last year.
However, the internationally 18th-ranked Eagles are coming off of victories over Georgia and Russia to close out a fall tour. California has been nice to the Eagles, who were winners in two of their last three matches in the state.
On Thursday (10:30 a.m.), the Eagles will conduct a workout at Jesuit High (Carmichael).
“It doesn’t get much closer to home than that,” Fry said with a laugh.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is 3 p.m. at the new Bonney Field, the home of Sacramento Republic FC.
Notes: Palamo became the youngest player in rugby World Cup history when he took the field in 2006, then went on to play rugby and football at Utah. The now-Woodland resident was featured in a 2011 Enterprise article, which can be seen at www.davisenterprise.com/sports/adult-amateur/former-blue-devil-palamo-puts-rugby-on-back-burner-at-utah. … For additional USA Eagles information, visit http://usarugby.org/mens-eagles. … Tickets for Saturday are available through Ticketmaster. … After Canada, the Eagles next meet the New Zealand All-Blacks in Chicago (Nov. 1). … The Eagles have qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup (Pool B with Samoa, South Africa, Scotland and Japan) — to be played in England a year from September.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.