The recently released Dragons prop Harry Fry is the last outgoing regional player to go to the English Championship. The 21-year-old loosehead has signed for Gloucestershire club Hartpury RFC.
While his older brother Ben has broken through to the back row in the Gwent region, Harry failed to force his way into the first team after coming out of Gloucester in 2020, instead playing his rugby for Newport and loaning it to Hartpury , with whom he now joins permanently.
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Van Radyr at Cardiff would have been a few years ago for the Wales U-20s, but because of a shoulder problem. Now, after limited action over the past few seasons, he’s ready for a fresh start, but on familiar ground, as he studied at Hartpury College just like flanker Ben.
“I have really enjoyed my time with the Dragons. It’s a good club with great people. There just wasn’t a real chance for me in the first team squad. My playing time was mainly with Newport. I was on loan with Hartpury for four weeks at the end of the season and after that they offered me a contract. So that’s settled for me for next year,” he said.
On his departure from the Gwent area, he said: “I wouldn’t say I expected to be released. I thought I played well in my second year, but I think the decision was already made. I think I left it a little too late. You just have to take it with a grain of salt, I think.”
Fry is one of more than 50 players to leave the four regions with around 100 players leaving the English Premiership clubs amid cost cuts across the board in the professional game.
“It’s a difficult time. I think Covid has hit a lot of young players a lot. But I think you just have to get used to moving where the opportunity arises. A lot is changing in all clubs at the moment. I’ve just kind of accepted it and I’m eager to go where I need to go to make progress,” he said.
His brother Ben, 23, has become a fixture on the Dragons match day squad, making 12 appearances in the past season, so what has Harry made of his progress?
“I’m as proud as I can be of him. I’m super happy for him and hopefully I can do the same for years to come. As a prop there’s a lot to learn and grow so if I can break through I probably will be a little later in my career than for him.”
Fry follows a number of other regional players as they progress to the second-tier English Championship. Wales wing Jonah Holmes has joined Ealing Trailfinders after leaving the Dragons, while his now former team-mate of three, Will Talbot-Davies, heads for Coventry. Cardiff trio Garyn Smith, Alun Lawrence and Ben Murphy have signed for the Cornish Pirates, Jersey and Doncaster respectively, with Wales U20’s No 8 Morgan Strong transferring to Ampthill from the Ospreys.