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Steelers: The World's First Gay Rugby Club

Country: UK | Netherlands, Language: English, 80 mins

  • Director: Eammon Ashton-Atkinson
  • Writer: Eammon Ashton-Atkinson
  • Producer: Jared Watmuff; Grace Tobin

CGiii Comment

Tighten your bootlaces…for this is…an emotional [and, I really mean emotional] ride. Most worthy of the price [and, I didn’t even have to pay…but, I would have] for the ticket. Seriously, I’m a little [okay, completely] undone…emotionally speaking [aaargh too many emotions!].

F&*K, it’s rugby…I know absolutely nothing about rugby. Now…and, if I was 20 (okay, let me be truthful [for once] maybe 30) years younger…I would, after watching this and chatting with the director, be slap-bang in the middle of any old scrum, wherever it was…in a muddy field…having the time of my bloody life…with like-minded pals…and, being…just me.

Because…that’s what Steelers have done, are still doing and will continue to do…it’s not only all about sport, Steelers have created a safe [albeit a bit rough] space…in other words, a community. Isn’t that such a beautiful word: Community.

Eammon [the director] was in Washington D.C., I was in Glasgow…his film and Zoom [via this consistently fabulous festival] brought us together for an oh-too-brief time.

I immediately gushed, congratulating him on his film...admitting that tears had streamed down my face. He said that's how he gauges the success of his film...by how many tears are shed. Well, babycakes, success is deservedly yours...there won't be a dry eye in the virtual cinema.

We chatted and I deferred [a bit]…I still can’t talk about the bullying…he can. I still can’t talk about my mental health as it was then. He does. Not only can he talk about those crippling issues, he faced them head-on. The result…this cathartic film…and, if it wasn’t for sustaining a concussion, he would have never had made it! Thank gawd for concussion [that’s a bit weird, isn’t it?!?].

Catharsis is wholly personal...and, for a film, treacherous territory…simply because, [being so personal] catharsis can act as a barricade against an audience. No fear here, that barricade is thankfully avoided. Along with Eammon...Nic, Simon and Andrew share their stories. The key word is 'share' - they all have a commonality, not just rugby...but, shared experiences. Hurtful and harmful experiences that most of us have had to endure at some point in our lives. The message delivered is resoundingly clear...it's good to talk. As they say, a problem shared...

This all might sound a bit on the heavy side...it's not. There is so much joy and beauty to be had within these 80 minutes...some of the music will have you welling up, some of the photography will make you gasp, there's even some drag...and, as for the legs, well...let's not dwell upon those too much! All hot around the collar!

Eammon did it all, filming, editing, producing...what he didn't know, he learnt from YouTube videos! The result of this labour of love...a deeply personal, positive and polished film…given to all of us…to be shared. Thank you.


Trailer... 

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The(ir) Blurb...

In 1995, in a pub in King’s Cross, a group of friends discussed the idea of a gay rugby club. From that casual conversation, the first gay rugby team was born. 25 years later, there are 60 clubs worldwide and once every two years they get together for the world tournament of gay rugby – The Bingham Cup. Eammon Ashton-Atkinson’s heartfelt documentary travels to Amsterdam as the King’s Cross Steelers attempt victory at the 2018 event. Along the way, we get to know some of the team. There’s Drew, inside centre by day, drag queen by night; Simon, who found a much-needed support system at the club, and head coach Nic, who isn’t shy of shedding a few proud tears when talking about her boys. It’s an inspiring testament to the power of teamwork and friendship.

Michael Blyth

Cast & Characters

Nic Evans
Simon Jones
Andrew McDowell