Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- March 15, 2016 -- Fresh off of signing a new two-year contract extension with the New England Patriots, special teams standout Nate Ebner has also declared his intentions to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics as a member of USA Rugby. The defending AFC Champion Patriots will keep Ebner under contract while he trains with the Men’s Sevens program at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. He will be allowed to return to the team following the Rio Games.
"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 told ESPN.com Tuesday. "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. I can't put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and family as well.”
The Ohio State University product helped lead the Buckeyes to a seventh place finish in the 2010 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship before joining the Ohio State football program as a junior. His standout special teams play earned him a scholarship for his senior year, and he was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has been a standout performer on special teams for New England, and is a frequent guest at the CRC, last year helping lead a safe tackling clinic for area football and rugby youth.
A high school rugby star, Ebner never played football during his time at Hilliard Davidson High of Ohio. He would go on to play for the USA Rugby U19 and U20 National Teams, taking team MVP in the 2007 U19 Junior World Championship in 2007 and the U20 Junior World Championship in 2008.
"We are excited and looking forward to Nate joining the program and working with the squad,” said USA Rugby Men’s Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday in a statement. “We are aware of Nate's rugby background from his high school and college days and this was the key to him being in a position to compete with the current squad. He is in great shape and we will be able to condition him over the next 6 to 8 weeks to be more aligned with rugby and work with him to get him up to speed on his skills and tactical understanding."
The USA Sevens Men’s and women’s teams have already qualified for the Rio Olympics, which will take place this August.
Putting the spotlight squarely on the new Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens (which will make its return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer), the 2016 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is slated for June 4th and 5th at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia. this two-day rugby festival is one of the largest gatherings of collegiate and high school rugby teams in the world. Penn Mutual is in the second year of a title sponsorship for the event, and NBC Sports will once again return as both broadcaster and event partner. Philadelphia, and Talen Energy Stadium, has been home to the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship since 2011.
The “World’s Largest Collegiate Rugby Festival” features the top 24 teams in men's college rugby, the top 16 teams in women's college rugby, as well as the National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) national championship, and the nation’s largest high school tournament with both boys and girls teams.
The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent in preparation for the Olympics. In the past three years, the Collegiate Rugby Championship has produced 15 players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams. In addition to its CRC sponsorship, Penn Mutual is also title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format. The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup is played in Provo, Utah on May 7. Tickets are now on sale for the 2016 Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, and are available online at http://www.usasevenscrc.com/crc-tickets/. All games will be played at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.
About United World Sports: United World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world's leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com.
About The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company: Since its founding in 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by its noble purpose to create a world of possibilities. At the heart of this purpose is the belief that purchasing life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping individuals, families and small businesses unlock life's possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions. This is accomplished through a national network of more than 5,000 financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible. Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Honor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at http://www.pennmutual.com.
About NBC Sports Group: When the Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction was completed in January 2011, the sports assets of the two companies combined to form NBC Sports Group, which serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of a unique array of broadcast television, cable television, radio and digital sports assets, including NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, 11 NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital.
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