Steelers – film review

Running time 80 minutes
Rating M
Available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and Amazon Prime Video
Also available on: Fetch, YouTube, Foxtel Store, PlayStation Store and Microsoft

In his debut feature length documentary film, Australian journalist and rugby player Eammon Ashton-Atkinson tells the story of the 2018 campaign by the English Kings Cross Steelers rugby club for the Bingham Cup – the world tournament of gay rugby.

Unable to play in the tournament because of injury, Ashton-Atkinson shot, wrote, edited, directed and narrated the film. He tells his own story about being bullied and outed at school, which led to loneliness and depression in his adult life, before he found happiness at the Steelers.

The film explores themes such as mental health, identity and fighting misogyny. The real-life cast of characters include Drew, prop 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 about shedding a few tears of pride when talking about her boys.

The Steelers – the world’s first gay rugby club – was formed in 1995, after a group of friends met in a London Kings Cross Pub. There are now some 60 clubs worldwide and every two years they compete for the Bingham Cup. In 2018, the tournament was in Amsterdam, where the Steelers’ main rival was a Sydney-based team.

This was an enjoyable and instructive watch. There is perhaps a little over-use of slow motion rugby scenes, but overall the conversations the director/filmmaker has with his main cast members are touching.

Perhaps best of all is the realism that allows the team to celebrate both its triumphs and disappointments without the fictionalised ending depicted in some Hollywood productions and recent foreign language film festivals.

  • Director/producer Eammon-Ashton Atkinson
  • Featuring Nic Evans Simon Jones Andrew Mcdowell and the Kings Cross Steelers Rugby Football Club

 Thanks to NEDCO and The Reset Collective for the opportunity to preview the film.