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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Nate Ebner Temporarily Headed Back To Rugby

The Olympics are like a siren calling out to American rugby players. That's the way it seems at the moment with Nate Ebner being the latest big name to put his hat into the ring for Rio. News broke today that Ebner is taking a leave of absence from the New England Patriots to train with the 7s team in and effort to make the Olympic team. Ebner has been with the Patriots since 2012 after playing only scant rugby for Ohio State. Prior to the switch to football Ebner was a big part of several U.S. age-grade teams.

Ebner will be in contention for the last four legs of the World Sevens Series but he will have to get back into rugby shape. Because he just signed a new 2-year deal with the Patriots it gives him some leeway in taking the leave of absence. He'll be back to football in time for the start of the season in August. In addition to Ebner, Chris Wyles has expressed that he wants to make the Olympic team.


  1. This is gold for the promotion of the game. If the NFL gets on board to tell this story that is free publicity that USA Rugby could never get.

  2. It's been an interesting couple of days for US rugby. I watched Carlin Isles run over the weekend and he finished a very respectable 5th in the finals. However, and more importantly, in the trials, semis and finals the announcers made special note that he was a US 7's Rugby Player and had already qualified for the Olympics. As far as Nate is concerned, every US sports site (ESPN and SI) has carried the story that he has obtained permission from the Pats to give Rugby/Olympics a go. I think these events help a lot in increasing the general public's awareness of rugby...and that can only be good.

  3. You have a guy who gave up the sport for the big bucks of the NFL wanting back in so he can try to get an Olympic medal. That makes the sport look so second rate its not funny. Kind of like a third tier NBA player trying to make the volleyball team because he can't make the basketball team. Have to imagine that the guys who have been putting in the effort event after event aren't to thrilled with this.

  4. Isn’t it interesting how some people would rather focus on the darkness of the cloud, just so they can ignore that it has a silver lining… Nate Ebner is a hard charger, and He has always been very frank about the fact that he would prefer to play rugby if the money was remotely equitable to the NFL. Regardless, I see no negative implications in this scenario: Either Ebner is good enough to play and brings good publicity for rugby with him, or he finds that he isn’t selected, and rugby is viewed as a serious sport, that even NFL players struggle to meet the athletic requirements. A true Win-Win senario in my estimation…

  5. Everyone really reads into things too much. All of Ebner's interviews, including those with ESPN, have had him explicitly correcting reporters that he hasn't "made the team." He is being given a chance and he knows how hard he will have to work to make it. Mike Friday and Chris Brown have clearly instilled a strong team bond at the OTC, but also a clear understanding that you are only as good as you are right now. And everyone is competing for a spot at all times. The team wants to win a medal, so that means sending the best 12 guys possible.

    Great publicity for rugby and 7s. A great addition to the OTC in a guy known for a serious work ethic and passion for rugby. And potentially another option for the traveling side if he makes the cut.

    Every time the calibre of the 20-30 guys at the OTC can be raised, it makes the top 12 work that much harder. And ensures the depth is there to handle any injuries. Thats what matters.

  6. A correction for Joe: Ebner just signed a 2 year deal with the Pats and is not giving up any money to pursue rugby - it's all baked into his deal. This has been in the works for a while and the Pats coaching staff and ownership were involved.