Patriots safety Nate Ebner pulled off one of the incredible feats of Olympic qualifying season, making the first U.S. Olympic rugby sevens team less than four months after announcing his return to the sport.
And he thinks other football players would fare well in rugby. Namely teammate Rob Gronkowski.
“How would Gronk be at anything that is physical? I think that answers that,” Ebner said on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday. “He’s a beast. He’d have no problems.”
Ebner, a 27-year-old who was an elite player as a teenager (at least among Americans) before converting to football at Ohio State, was asked which sport is tougher.
“It just depends on what your definition of toughness is,” he said. “If it’s about how hard you hit somebody, I’d say football. … But there are aspects to rugby which are extremely tough, when it comes to cardiovascular standpoint. The amount of mileage that we have to run in such a short period of time, but you also have to tackle and get back up and compete.”
Ebner already has a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots from two seasons ago. His chances of joining former Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes in owning a ring and an Olympic gold medal are not strong.
The U.S. men’s rugby team is a medal contender, for sure, but to take gold would be an upset. The Americans were fifth in the World Series standings the last two seasons.
The favorites are Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand.
“We’ve beaten all the top teams ahead of us multiple times this year, just haven’t accrued enough points to be higher than fifth,” Ebner said. “We definitely have the ability to beat the top teams. I wouldn’t say we’re frontrunners at all, because we’re not winning the series, but we’re definitely contenders. Anyone that writes us off, they’re mistaken for sure.”Follow @nzaccardi