SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 12, 2015) -- Sgt. Mattie Tago was playing rugby at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, one evening several years ago when he invited an older onlooker to join the game.

Before they left the field that night, the older man suggested that Tago should apply for a tryout with the All-Army Rugby Team.

"I didn't even know they had an All-Army Team," Tago recalled. "I told him: 'I don't know about that. I don't know how to apply for it or anything.' He told me all the steps, how the process goes, and he gave me confidence that I would make the team.

"It turned out this old man just so happened to be the coach."

Shortly thereafter, Tago was playing at the 2012 Armed Forces Rugby Sevens Championship Tournament in Glendale, Colorado.

"We've come a long way," said Tago, 24, a native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. "I'm so happy that coach took me in and taught me a lot of things I needed to work on."

Tago has won three consecutive Armed Forces Rugby Sevens Championships on All-Army teams.

"Mattie is a special guy to us," said All-Army Rugby Sevens Coach Col. Mark Drown of the Utah Army National Guard. "He's going to do nothing but grow and mature. I think he's going to be a phenomenal asset [for the U.S. national team.] He's a powerful runner, and he's still learning."

Tago, the only rugger who has played all four years for the All-Army Team since the Armed Forces tournament switched from 15-man rugby sides to the seven-man format, entered the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program in May of 2015.

"I'm happy to represent the U.S. Army, my unit, WCAP, and our brothers and sisters downrange," Tago said. "We always pray for them to make it back to their families. We play for them and all of the U.S. Army."

Tago's goals include training with the USA Men's Eagles Sevens rugby athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California; earning a spot on the final Team USA Olympic men's sevens roster; and playing Olympic rugby in Brazil.

"The goal is to make it to the national team," said Tago, who is one of 23 players currently listed on the USA Eagles Sevens Rugby player pool, from which 12 will be selected for the 2016 U.S. Olympic men's rugby sevens squad. "From there, anything is possible."

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PHOTOS:

Photo1.jpg: U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program rugger Sgt. Mattie Tago helps All-Army to a 43-12 victory over All-Air Force in the gold-medal game of the 2015 Armed Forces Rugby Sevens Championship Tournament at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. Tago is one of 23 players on the USA men's Eagles Sevens roster, from which 12 will be selected for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Rugby Sevens Team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro. U.S. Army IMCOM photo by Tim Hipps

Photo2.jpg: Sgt. Mattie Tago, a native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, advances the ball during All-Army's last-minute march to a 19-14 walk-off victory over All-Air Force in the gold-medal game of the 2013 Armed Forces Rugby Sevens Championship, Aug. 17, 2013, at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. Tago is one of 23 players on the USA men's Eagles Sevens roster, from which 12 will be selected for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Rugby Sevens Team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro. (U.S. Army IMCOM photo by Tim Hipps)

Photo3.jpg: Sgt. Mattie Tago, a native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, advances the ball during All-Army's last-minute march to a 19-14 walk-off victory over All-Air Force in the gold-medal game of the 2013 Armed Forces Rugby Sevens Championship, Aug. 17, 2013, at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. Tago is one of 23 players on the USA men's Eagles Sevens roster, from which 12 will be selected for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Rugby Sevens Team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro. (U.S. Army IMCOM photo by Tim Hipps)


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