In a report first announced by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday, New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner will be taking a leave of absence to begin training for a spot on the 2016 United States Olympic Rugby Team which will be competing in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
The news comes on the heels of a new two-year contract for Ebner he signed on March 12th, specific terms on the deal were not disclosed publicly.
Ebner released the following statement to Schefter through ESPN.
“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.
“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,” Ebner said. “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.”
Proud of my guy @Natebner34! You're the man, now go crush some cardio. https://t.co/XISJDcVmg6
— Joe Cardona (@joecardona93) March 15, 2016
This is not the first time Ebner has perused playing rugby, in college at Ohio State University he was an All-American player on the school’s team. Some highlights from his career below.
The 2016 games mark the debut of Rugby 7’s to Olympic competition following a near century long hiatus that last saw Rugby Union events played in the 1924 Paris games.
The games are scheduled for the first two weeks of August, therefore it is expected Ebner will miss the beginning of training camp, but by receiving the Patriots blessing, he will be out on a quest to add a gold medal to accompany his Super Bowl ring.