Nate Ebner hasn't played rugby competitively since 2012, when he shifted his focus to football full-time. Next week, he'll have the opportunity to compete in the sport that has been his lifelong passion.
The Patriots safety has taken a leave of absence from the team to pursue a roster spot with the USA Sevens side in the Olympics this summer. As part of his training, he'll play in a 10s tournament at the Hong Kong Football Club on April 6 and 7, per ESPN.
Ebner will play for the Samurai side in the contest, joining a few of England's sevens players.
"We have a great relationship with [England Sevens head coach] Simon Amor and England Sevens that has rolled over from my days as team manager and we're so pleased that he agreed to release a few of his contracted players for us for the GFI HKFC 10s," Samurai coach Terry Sands told ESPN. "To then get a call from [USA Sevens head coach] Mike Friday to confirm that Nate Ebner was available was the icing on the cake for us in our 20th anniversary year."
Ebner was an All-America rugby player at Ohio State before focusing on his career in football. Last season he went into depth on his background in the sport and how it helped shape his relationship with his late father Jeff.
If he earns a spot on the USA Sevens roster, Ebner will re-join the Patriots in August after the Olympic rugby competition, which is scheduled for Aug. 6-11.
Ebner, one of coach Bill Belichick's top special-teamers, re-signed with the Patriots this offseason after the expiration of his rookie deal. His new contract will keep him in New England through 2017.