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Top rugby players to watch in Rio

Madison Hughes
USA TODAY Sports

Top rugby players to watch in Rio

Keep your eyes on these five rugby players during the 2016 Olympics

Nate Ebner

Just three days after signing a new contract with the New England Patriots, Ebner announced his intention to compete for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s rugby team. Patriots head Bill Belichick gave his blessing to Ebner, who helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX over the Seattle Seahawks. 

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Nate Ebner

"We're pulling for him to bring back something around his neck."

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Ebner only made one appearance on the pitch during the 2015-2016 World Rugby Sevens Series, but he made an impression, scoring two tries in his first-ever match.

Carlin Isles

Isles is considered the fastest man in rugby. He is known for using his speed to burn defenders, and several of his internet highlight videos have gone viral.

He was originally a college football player and then a professional sprinter. While training for the 2012 Olympics, Isles discovered rugby as he searched the Internet for sprinting techniques. When he made his U.S. rugby debut in 2012, he scored a try in his first minute on the pitch.

Madison Hughes

Hughes was named captain of the U.S. men’s rugby team in 2014, despite being the youngest member of the team. Now 23, Hughes displays his leadership skills by working hard and holding his teammates accountable for doing the same.  

He was born in a suburb of London and discovered a passion for the sport while attending in school in England. He attended college at Dartmouth University, and became the first junior to ever be named the team’s captain.

Jillion Potter

Potter is less than two years removed from being diagnosed with Synovial sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue cancer, in September 2014. She underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and lost 20 pounds. By the summer of 2015, she returned to training, and now she is going to the Olympics. 

Ellia Green

Isles is considered the fastest man in rugby, and Australia’s Ellia Green is considered the fastest woman in rugby. She originally dreamed of going to the Olympics as a sprinter, and hung posters of her favorite sprinters on the walls of her childhood room. She began focusing on rugby in 2012, and has used her speed to score many highlight-reel tries. 

Ellia Green: The fastest woman in rugby

"I want to be a tough girl who can do anything"

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Rugby 101

Learn more about rugby:

Basics | Competition format | Glossary | Olympic history | Qualification | Rules | Venue

 

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