New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner has made the first U.S. Olympic rugby sevens team.
Rugby returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, but this time it’s a smaller sevens version.
The U.S., led by London-born captain Madison Hughes and former Detroit Lions practice-squad wide receiver Carlin Isles, is an outside medal threat after finishing sixth in the World Series standings the last two years.
Ebner, 27, announced his return to rugby March 15, seven years removed from his junior national team days before he focused on football at Ohio State. He is expected to rejoin the Patriots after the Olympics.
Ebner reached the top level of international rugby sevens when he was named to the 12-man roster for World Series stops in Hong Kong, Singapore and Paris in April and May.
However, Ebner was not named to the team for the last World Series stop in London in late May, instead being put on a development-level tournament squad that weekend. That appeared to jeopardize his chances of making the Olympic team.
Ebner and former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best are expected to become the first athletes with previous NFL experience to compete at a Summer Olympics.Follow @nzaccardi
U.S. Olympic men’s rugby roster