FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick and several members of the Patriots coaching staff showed their support for Patriots safety Nate Ebner, who is competing in Rio on the U.S. Olympic rugby team, by wearing a USA Rugby shirt with Ebner’s name on the back.
Bill Belichick supporting Nate Ebner with some USA Rugby gear. Games today vs. Argentina (12p) and Brazil (5p). pic.twitter.com/Lr3wV5oGY2— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 9, 2016
Ebner, a safety and special teams ace who re-signed with the Patriots this offseason after hitting free agency, has been granted a leave from Patriots training camp to compete in the Games. The U.S. played its first match Tuesday, a 17-14 loss to Argentina.
It takes on Brazil at 5 p.m. Tuesday night, and the Patriots will be watching.
Belichick informed his team that it would be catching the second game -- which consists of two seven-minute halves -- as a group at Gillette Stadium.
"I‘m mad we missed the first game," said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. "But we’ll go in there and a lot of us will watch that game at 5 o'clock and get to cheer our guy on."
Though USA Rugby Men's Sevens coach Mike Friday once placed Ebner's odds of making the Olympic roster at about 50-50, the former Ohio State rugby star earned one of the team's 12 spots after a few months of training with USA Rugby. He came off the bench for the U.S. in the second half of the loss to Argentina.
When the Patriots watch Ebner on Tuesday night, they'll be glued, McCourty said.
"Nate is a very popular guy on the team," McCourty said. "Everybody loves Nate, his work ethic and what he brings to the team. A lot of us can’t wait to get in there and watch him do something that he’s very passionate about.
"I think in the secondary, we know he talked to us about trying out for the Olympics before it even came up, so to now see it come full circle and get a chance to watch him in the Olympics is going to be a cool experience."