RWU HQ – After Team USA’s Eagles and Uruguay’s Los Teros finished their two-game series, I had the chance to pick Eagles’ and Northampton Saints #8 Cam Dolan’s brain. Here’s what transpired between a college football lineman and a large rugger:
Q: What was the deciding factor that led you to attend Life University? Was it the Rugby Program? Did Dan Payne recruit you?
A: I decided to attend Life because of it’s strong rugby culture, and the long history of being one of the best teams. When I went there in January of 2009, Dan Payne was still at San Diego State University. Scott Lawrence initially recruited me up to Life.
Q: When you weren’t on the pitch or in the weight room, what were some of the things you did to have fun in college? Did you play another sport?
A: Being a full-time varsity athlete, it was hard to find the energy to play any other sports. So, when I did have free time outside of rugby and class, the guys and I would indulge in a lot of billiards and video games. Mainly NHL or FIFA. Really exciting stuff!
Q: What was your proudest moment at Life in 7s? How about 15s?
A: In 7’s, I’d have to say winning the Las Vegas Invitational to book or place for the Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2012. As far as 15’s goes, I’d have to say winning the National Championship this past year.
Q: Name two players you went up against in college that could make the Eagles in 7s and 15s that haven’t been in a camp yet.
A: This is a tough one as there is a lot of good talent in the college ranks in The States. But if I had to pick two, I’d say Paul Lasike and one of my former teammates, Paris Hollis. They both have the size and athleticism to make it at the next level.
Q: How much of an honor was it when Rugby Magazine named you the 2013 Breakout Player of the Year? Did people treat you differently?
A: Anytime you get an accolade like that, it puts a smile on your face. However, those kind of things aren’t really on my list of goals as a player. I strive to be the best that I can everyday that I wake up, while also being a good teammate and role model for young players to look up to.
Q: Does that accolade push you even harder, so you make sure it’s not the only thing you’re remember for when you hang up the cleats years from now?
A: As I mentioned in the previous question, as long as I’m getting better every morning in all aspects of the game, then I will ultimately meet my goals.
Q: When you made the USA Eagles squad what was your first thought?
A: Every time you put on your nation’s jersey, it’s an absolute honor. The biggest honor any athlete can have. However, you have to leave it all out there and play to your potential, so that it’s not the only time you ever wear it.
Q: Who was the first person you called to tell the news?
A: Easy. My father. He’s my biggest fan and supports me with any decision I make in life. The second person I would’ve called would’ve been Dan Payne, but he was in Japan with us as the USA forwards coach.
Q: What was the feeling when you signed your professional contract with the Northampton Saints? How has Samu Manoa helped you in the transition?
A: It was a dream come true. Every kid who grows up playing sports dreams of becoming a professional athlete, and to be fortunate enough to be able to do that is almost surreal. And who better to sign your first contract with than the best team in England? Samu has played a huge part in my transition; not only into professional rugby, but also into living in England.
Q: How do feel about pro teams pressuring the IRB to allow them the right to keep their players from representing their countries?
A: For a lot of us overseas players, we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for our national teams. That, and it means so much to represent your country. However, the timing of the professional season and certain tours is very inconvenient. The IRB and professional leagues need to work together better to come up with more convenient test match windows.
Q: Critics have been all over the play of the team’s props, specifically at tighthead and Eric Fry. And they are saying that you were not able to be a factor as the scrums were getting pushed back, limiting your ability to pick up the ball and run it while the pack was going forward. From your perspective, what is the problem with the scrums and how did the struggles affect your play?
A: You’re always going to have arm chair critics in every sport. People are always going to talk behind the keys of a message board and say what they think is correct. At the end of the day, results are all that matters. We’re out there working our tails off to be the best solid unit we can be, usually within a small time span as well. Eric Fry is a strong guy and a knowledgeable scrummager. It’s just hard to get that cohesion with less than a week to train.
Q: What kind of work do you, scrumhalf Mike Petri and hooker Phil Thiel do together at training or talk strategy as the ball handlers in the scrums?
A: Phil and I have been on the same team for about 5 years now, so we know each other very well as far as skill-set goes. Petri and I usually spend 5 minutes or so at the end of practice going through 8/9 moves and hike balls. Just to get timing and communication on point.
Q: What’s your favorite place that rugby has taken you?
A: Would easily have to say Cape Town, South Africa. The culture and landscape was gorgeous. Not to mention the food was great and affordable. The rugby culture was great, and the S.A, Universities really showed us college guys what great rugby looks like.
Q: Changing gears… What’s something that nobody (or not many people) know about you?
A: I’m very big into hunting and fishing. Spear fishing in particular. It’s another world down there, and let’s me shut off the real world for a bit.
Q: If you’re at the bar with your buddies and they force you up on the karaoke stage, what’s your fall-back song?
A: I’d have to say, “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love Tonight“, by The Outfield. Just about everyone knows the lyrics to the song, and can’t help but sing along when it plays. It helps cover up my terrible singing voice.
Q: Smart… Finally, why do you play rugby?
A: Camaraderie. The challenge of achieving something bigger than yourself with a group of teammates is a priceless feeling.
Q: Thanks, Cam.
A: Thank you.