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Nate Ebner talks Olympic rugby with Chelsea Handler

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Chelsea Handler interviews Nate Ebner.Photo from "Chelsea."

Since Nate Ebner was named to the United States Olympic rugby team, he has made the rounds on television as the only active NFL player to qualify for the Olympics, and he added one more show to his list on Thursday. Nate appeared on Chelsea Handler's new Netflix show, "Chelsea," which airs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on the streaming service.

The two talked about Nate's history in the sport, which began with his dad, Jeff. Nate grew up watching his father play, but there were no leagues for children when he was growing up.

As a result, he played up a few age brackets. Well, quite a few. 

"I had to play with the men," Nate said. "I think my first game, I was 13 and I played in a men's game."

After that, he continued to play rugby until he made the switch to football when he walked onto the team at Ohio State. Eventually, he was drafted by the Patriots, and it became all football all the time. 

Until it was announced that rugby was returning to the Olympics in Rio.

"[I] kind of took a hiatus from rugby in that time and since I've been in the NFL," Nate said. "Then when I found out that rugby was going to be in the Olympics, how can you not want to be a part of that when you played rugby your whole life?"

"The last time it was in the Olympics was what, 1924? And we won the gold, so we're basically going back to reclaim our gold medal if you think about it that way," Chelsea responded, earning cheers from the crowd.

While the idea of a gold medal is enough to fuel any Olympic athlete, additional motivation for Nate comes from a personal level. Nate's father died in 2008, so being able to play the sport that was a shared love on an international stage makes the experience even more special.

"For me, we were always really tight," Nate said. "Everything I do I feel like I'm connected to him, but just the amount of time we spent together on the rugby field and training and stuff to kind of bring it full circle and bring it back to this it's pretty special. I think he would have got a kick out of it for sure."

The road to the Olympic Rugby 7s has been a demanding one in terms of training, Nate said. In football, there are meetings and weight room sessions in addition to practice, but for rugby, much of his day is spent grinding it out on the field. 

"The practice is intense, man," Nate said. "It's more physical than anything I've ever done in my life probably."

"More physical than football?" Chelsea asked.

"More physically demanding of me on a day to day to basis than football practice is ... With rugby, I mean, somedays we're on the field for three different sessions a day, and we can run up to between six and eight miles just through practice," Nate said. "That's not running in a circle around a track. It's running full speed and cutting so it's just a lot of mileage, but that's what you need to do to play at an international level." 

Nate was in good company on the show. Other guests included Melissa McCarthy, who talked about the new "Ghostbusters" movie, and actor Zachary Quinto. Catch the episode of "Chelsea," which is rated MA for mature audiences, now on Netflix. 

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