U.S. men’s rugby finishes ninth at Rio Olympics

Nate Ebner

The U.S. men’s rugby team defeated Spain 24-12 on Thursday to finish ninth in the final Olympic standings.

Spain struck first, but Danny “The Beast” Barrett responded with a try for the U.S. with Spain down a man. Then on the final play of the opening half, Carlin Isles, who is considered the fastest man in rugby, burned several Spanish defenders over about 70 yards to send the U.S. into halftime leading 12-5.

After Spain evened the score in the second half, Maka Unufe and Isles scored tries for the U.S. to secure the match.

Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio. When the sport was last played at the Olympics in 1924, it was the 15-a-side version of the game, and the U.S. won the gold medal.

The U.S. lost its opening match in Rio on Tuesday against Argentina. Nate Ebner, a safety for the New England Patriots, became the first active NFL player to compete at a Summer Olympics.

Later that night, the U.S. defeated Brazil to win its first Olympic men’s rugby sevens win ever. Ebner scored a try with his Patriots teammates taking a break from training camp to watch the match on television.

Then on Wednesday, the U.S. lost to top-seeded Fiji 24-19. The U.S. needed to win, draw or lose by less than four points to advance to the quarterfinals.

Wednesday night the U.S. defeated Brazil for the second time in Rio. Carlin Isles, who is considered the fastest man, scored three tries for the U.S.

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