Updated: Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012, 11:45 AM EDT
Published : Monday, 18 Jun 2012, 9:24 PM EDT
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Rugby is a sport where football meets soccer and basketball, and in four years, it will be an Olympic sport.
"The popularity comes from the contact of the sport. I mean people love American football, and they love the contact in hockey and other things like that and so when they see Rugby and it's actual tackling they just love that part of the game," said Chris Porter who plays for the Norfolk Blues.
Rugby was an Olympic sport until 1924. The Norfolk Blues Rugby Club was founded in the late 1970s and that's when the sport started to regain popularity in the United States.
"I think recognition is a great word. I think it's going to be a fantastic opportunity for Americans to see what rugby is all about," said Porter.
John Leo who's training for this weekend 7's tournament says he was all ready to play football in college, but rugby caught his eye.
"I was going to play football at University of Stony Brook but I walked through the student union and I saw the rugby tables set up and I was really addicted to the game, the physicality and it's awesome camaraderie as well," said Leo.
The sport has grown in popularity and now has 90,000 athletes in the U.S.
Ed Stockunas got a taste of that elite level competition when he played for the national team.
"I played for a couple of teams in the area and ended up playing for the U.S. national team in 2007," Stockunas said.
And now these athletes are just excited that their sport is getting the respect they feel it deserves.
"I consider it the hardest sport to play, to be able to sprint non-stop for 14 minutes, and know what's going on without getting mentally and physically exhausted," said Stockunas .
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