Kieran Frost locks on to be a driving force in the Cambridge pack in National League One
Kieran Frost has been a key figure in helping to give Cambridge an abrasive edge this season in National League One.
Standing at nearly 6ft 6in, the second row is instantly recognisable on the pitch –- that is if you can see him as he is usually buried amidst a pile of bodies.
Consistently the first to the breakdown, the 26-year-old is also a major catalyst in what has become both the irresistible force and the immovable object – the driving maul try-scoring machine.
Frost’s arrival at Cambridge was almost a product of the Covid pandemic, and a relentless playing schedule that – unlike for many others–- has not really slowed in the past two years.
Having grown up with Towcestrians, whose senior team play in Midlands One East, Frost was part of the Bedford Blues academy before going to the University of Leeds to study sports and exercise science.
His first club in Yorkshire was Wharfedale, an old rival of Cambridge’s during their first spell in National League One.
“It’s a great club and great people if you’re from Wharfedale, but it’s a nightmare to go if you’re not,” says Frost, of the playing atmosphere faced by opposition teams at Threshfield.
“It’s a lovely area and everyone is lovely, but the fans there are different gravy.
“I’ve never really met fans as vocal and lary as they are once it comes to game day. It’s probably one of the worst places to go to play a game of rugby if you’re not from Wharfedale.
“I played against them in a friendly when I signed for Rotherham, and I got a bit of stick having previously played for them.
“It feels like you’re in a full-seater stadium when you’re there.
“They will do anything they can, which is why I think their home record isn’t a bad one. It just makes a long trip even worse when you’ve got to deal with everyone there and playing such a big team like that for a couple of hours. It’s not easy to win there.”
After a season at Wharfedale in National League 2N, Frost signed for Yorkshire Carnegie, who are now playing as Leeds Tykes.
It was a tie-up that worked well in more ways than one.
Frost was able to use a couple of the players on the Carnegie books to assist in his university dissertation, and that helped to juggle the academic demands with rugby.
“I learned a lot. I was a couple of years older than a few of the academy boys there so it was just like a big learning thing for me,” he explains.
“It was a first full-time environment, training every day, gym every day, helping out with the younger lads, learning off the older lads.
“I learned off some really good coaches and boys that have played internationally, in the Premiership and just some clear advice being around them all day.
“It’s not like you learn just rugby from them, you learn how to be a professional sportsman, how to carry yourself, what to do, what not to do, your attitude changes.
“Just all in all, it made me a better person as well as a sportsman so I was very lucky to have signed for Leeds.
“It was a great group of lads and a good set of coaching staff with the academy and the first team so I was very fortunate, to be fair.”
On graduating, Frost embarked on a spell Down Under.
He was approached by an agency to see if he would be interested in playing abroad for a year.
It took him to Canberra to play for Queanbeyan Whites, who compete in the John I Dent Cup and whose past players include David Campese, Nic White, Matt Giteau and Jack Lam.
“It was great,” says Frost. “They are a different breed out there. You learn other things than rugby, but all in all it was a great experience, I would recommend it to anyone.
“You do learn a lot of things, especially about yourself when you are far away from home and everyone you know.
“I was lucky enough to go away with one of the lads from Leeds so it made it a little bit easier, but it’s an amazing experience and opportunity – I learned a lot and would recommend it if anyone has that offer.
“Obviously, you learn how they do things and you can make a good mould out of everything you’ve learned from different people, different countries and different playing styles.
“I definitely learned to have a bit more flair and a bit of off-the-cuff stuff.”
On his return to these shores, Frost signed for Rotherham and featured in most of their games in the 2019-20 season before it was aborted.
The pandemic led to the lock moving back down south, and signing for London Scottish initially, but after Scottish withdrew from the shortened 2021 Championship season, he instead moved to Ampthill.
With limited game time, Frost moved a little bit further down the road to link up with Cambridge during pre-season.
“I knew a couple of the lads, spoke to Richie (Williams, Cambridge’s director of rugby) a little bit beforehand, I’m someone that likes to be comfortable,” says Frost.
“Being able to go straight into a club because you know a few people and not have to be a bit reserved or shy to work people out, it was easy for me and I think easy for the boys.
“They got to know me for the type of person I am, being able to be chatty, opinionated, have a laugh but be able to switch on and try to guide people, help people learn and learn off other people.
“I love the club, being around the club, the staff, the fans. It’s a good club to be about and everyone is really helpful and friendly.
“I think they all bend over backwards for each other, and not all clubs have that family type of vibe about them where you would do anything for each other at any time if they asked, which I think is probably why we’re doing so good.
“I think we all just know how to push each other, which people need an arm around their shoulder or a kick up the bum-type scenario.
“I had a feeling we would do well, but to be in the position we are now after losing the first three and being able to somehow draw three is a huge positive.”
Frost describes Cambridge as a bit of “a slow-burner” after that start but it did help mould them into the side they have become.
“After losing the first couple, it probably made us the type of team we are now which is definitely a tougher team, a more physical team but because of those losses I think it has moulded us into the team we are today,” he adds.
“It was frustrating not to take a lot of points out of the first three, and the league would be a lot different now if we had not drawn those three.
“I think a lot of the teams have a lot more respect for us now.
“We know what we’re capable of, we know what the opposition have got and, to be cliched, it’s literally down to us.”
Cambridge certainly had to dig deep last Saturday as they earned 22-20 win at Darlington Mowden Park.
The hosts went 15-0 ahead inside the first 20 minutes through two tries and a penalty.
Ben Brownlie and Kwaku Asiedu touched down before half time for Cambridge, then a try from Jake McCloud and conversion from Harry Johnston turned things on their head.
However, Park went back in front before Scott Lloyd got a try to seal Cambridge’s win.
They are away to Tonbridge Juddians this Saturday (March 12).