Former Ohio State defensive back Nate Ebner and the USA Sevens Rugby Team team opened play at the Olympics early Tuesday afternoon against Argentina.
The tournament got off to a disappointing start for the Americans, who fell 17-14 on the final play of the match.
Of course, Ebner is missing practice for his other team while he is Rio, taking a temporary leave of absence from New England Patriots training camp to represent his country.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his players got into the Olympic spirit at practice Tuesday morning, sporting USA Rugby shirts with Ebner’s name and number 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
The Buckeyes also showed their support for Ebner, taking to Twitter as he made his Olympic debut. He is the first active NFL player to compete at the Olympics.
— Ohio State Buckeyes (@OhioStAthletics) August 9, 2016
Rugby is making its return to the Olympics after a 92-year absence, and the United States is the defending champion from the 1924 Paris Games.
The quest to defend that crown continues later Tuesday, when the United States plays its second game in Group A at 5 p.m. against host Brazil. The Americans wrap up group play at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday against Fiji.