Nate Ebner won’t fly home from Rio with a medal around his neck, but the New England Patriots safety will carry back some valuable lessons learned during the United States rugby sevens team’s disappointing showing at the 2016 Olympics.
“The biggest thing I take from rugby is that it’s so relatable to life, as in so many things can go wrong quickly, but you can’t dwell on it, and the quicker you put it behind you and get on to the next task, you have a better chance of succeeding,” Ebner said Wednesday, via ESPN.com.
“It teaches you not to dwell on things which have gone bad. No one has ever played a perfect sevens game, and you have to go with the punches. And when things don’t go your own way, you have to go to the next task.”
He added: “There are a lot of things to learn about rugby as a sport and what it’s taught me in my life from a character standpoint and the camaraderie with my teammates. They’re friends I’ll have for the rest of my life, and I could talk about rugby forever.”
Considered a dark-horse candidate to reach the podium in the first Olympic rugby tournament since 1924, the U.S. instead bowed out early after narrow losses to Argentina and Fiji in pool play. Ebner & Co. fell one point shy of a quarterfinal berth and ultimately placed ninth after beating Brazil and Spain in the consolation bracket.
Ebner saw action in four of the Americans’ five matches, starting three. He scored one try against Brazil and another against Fiji — a stacked squad made up of players Ebner believes could excel in the NFL as well.
“They invaded the contact area, and if they picked up the rules, I’m sure they’d be great,” Ebner said, via ESPN.com. “Just like some of those American football boys — if they grew up with rugby, I’m sure they’d be great, too. Hopefully we can get guys like that in the USA playing rugby.”
Ebner, who took a leave of absence from the Patriots in March and has focused all of his energy on rugby in the months since, admitted the transition back to football will be “a little strange.” It remains to be seen exactly when Ebner will rejoin the Patriots, who open their preseason schedule Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints.
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