Nate Ebner taking leave from Patriots to work with U.S. Olympic rugby team

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The Patriots officially announced that they have re-signed safety Nate Ebner on Tuesday, but football won’t be his only athletic pursuit this offseason.

Ebner’s football career did not begin until he walked onto the Ohio State team during his junior year because he had been a top-flight rugby player before that point. Ebner made the U.S. national rugby sevens team when he was 17 and continued to play internationally during his first two years of college before switching to the gridiron.

Ebner will temporarily reverse that change this offseason. Ebner has been granted time off from the Patriots to train with the U.S. team in the coming months as they prepare for the Rio Summer Olympics in August.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots from top to bottom for giving me the opportunity to come back and play for a truly first class organization,” Ebner said, via Adam Schefter of ESPN. “I also want to thank them and USA Rugby for giving me the opportunity to chase a dream I’ve had since I was a boy in a sport in which I’ve always had a passion. I can’t put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and family as well. I plan to represent the Patriots and our country to the best of my ability. Thanks again and Go Pats and go USA.”

The Olympic rugby competition will take place from August 6-11 and, assuming he makes the team, Ebner is expected to rejoin the Patriots in training camp after its conclusion.

11 responses to “Nate Ebner taking leave from Patriots to work with U.S. Olympic rugby team

  1. I was in the minority on this, but I always thought RGIII should have participated in the Olympics when he had the chance; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for even the most elite athletes.

  2. Not a Rugby guy myself, but good for him. I don’t like seeing players forced to “choose” one over the other with respect to the Olympics. Jeff Demps is the only other player I can remember off the top of my head that tried to compete in the Olympics and play pro football, I’m sure there are others

  3. The USA would win the Gold easy if our best athletes played rugby. If USA put together a team of 2nd string running backs and tight ends they would kill it! NFL athletes are extraordinary. Our Rugby athletes are not as fast and strong as the guys in the NFL.

  4. My dream was that, in retirement, Marshawn Lynch join the USA Sevens. I would love to see Beast-mode roll over Fiji and New Zealand.

    As that’s not going to happen, Ebner’s the next best thing. With 4.5 40-yd speed at 6′, 200 lbs, he’s going to do some damage on the pitch. Go USA!

    Some day football fans are going to discover (great) rugby and they’ll have their new off-season fix.

  5. This guy is taking a temporary leave to play in the Olympics. Meanwhile players are fleeing the Broncos like rats from a sinking ship…..

  6. I’ve played rugby and football (both in US and UK) and love both sports, but I’d not be keen on allowing a contracted player to risk themselves in another contact sport. It’d be very different if Ebner was the key ingredient of a 15-a-side American team that could win the Rugby World Cup, but they’re nothing like that and 7-a-side Olympic Rugby is seen as a joke competition in the Rugby world (much like 5-a-side soccer friendly compared to, say, the Premier League).

    As to posters here thinking all we’d have to do is throw our best NFL athletes at rugby to be the best in the World at it, you’re wrong – you’d need to develop an appreciation of the game at college and the pros – there’s a lot of finesse and controlled contact in rugby, it isn’t just about horsepower.

  7. Thanks to the Patriots for allowing Ebner to do this. Not every Pro Sports team would be so willing to allow one of their contracted athletes to risk injury in another contact sport.

    Good luck to Ebner and Team USA!

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