This article originally appeared in Mile High Sports Magazine. Read the full digital edition.

Chad London has seen rugby from all sides. He grew up with the sport, watching his grandpa and father play in his home country. So it was only natural that he would follow in their footsteps, as rugby is the national pastime in South Africa. But that was only the beginning of his journey.

The game also brought him to the United States, where he was able to continue his educational pursuits thanks to his abilities on the pitch. Back in 2008, Palmer College of Chiropractic (Iowa) was one of the few schools offering scholarships to rugby players; London jumped at the chance to continue playing the sport he loves, while also earning his degree.

That decision led to more opportunities. Since leaving the windy plains of Iowa, he’s taken his rugby skills to all corners of the country. Currently, London is a center for the Glendale Raptors, spearheading one of the top club teams in America, and also a member of the USA Men’s Eagles, a national team that takes on teams from all over the world.

And soon, the sport will lead to yet another interesting step. This April, PRO Rugby North America is slated to begin play in five cities, including Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco; Denver is expected to be one of the final two locales. As a member of USA Rugby, London figures to be a tier one player for one of the inaugural teams.

It’s an amazing journey, given where the sport of rugby stood in terms of popularity and prominence when London arrived in the United States less than a decade ago. Now, he’s on the cusp of playing the sport as a professional, earning a living (tier one players are expected to make $35-45,000 per year) for something that he’s been doing for the love of the game.

“We’ve taken a huge step,” said London when asked about the growth of rugby in America. “With more colleges offering scholarships and a professional league now giving players something to strive for, rugby is going to attract more and more people.”

The game certainly seems to be on the rise, with Colorado being at the epicenter of its growth. And beginning this month (March 12), fans can see London and other members of the Raptors begin the home slate of their Pacific Rugby Premiership season. It’s a chance to get on the bandwagon early; rugby is about to boom.

Image Credit: Glendale Raptors