(Reviewed by John Glennie)
Quite a moving documentary about the first gay rugby team which was formed in England and the profound effect that it has had on the players. The documentary is filmed by one of its key players, Eammon Ashton-Atkinson, at the gay version of the Rugby World Cup. Eammon is unfortunately injured so cannot take part in the tournament so decided it would be a great opportunity to produce a docu-movie.
The film follows the Steelers’ through the tournament from their first round loss against their biggest rival from Sydney to the ultimate final clash against their nemesis. But the rugby is really secondary in this film. Eammon focusses on the lives of three members of the team – one of them being himself – and addresses their childhoods, discovering they were gay, and the subsequent bullying and depression suffered by each of them.
It is quite heartwarming when you hear their individual tales of the depression each faced at the hands of some pretty nasty school kids – something nearly everyone can relate to at various times of their school days. Kids can be incredibly cruel! Eammon realised at a young age that he was “different” and received the customary bullying. He always loved rugby but was ostracised by the other players despite having exceptional ability. Eammon focussed on studies to maintain distance from the bullies and became a lawyer and then a reporter.
Drew – a shorter stocky guy – is from the United States and, after joining the Steelers, was asked to take part in a show as a drag queen. He ended up loving it and enjoyed performing and making people laugh, so now does it regularly.
Simon is another who was subjected to bullying and went through severe depression. It was heart-warming to hear how all three found comfort and friendship through the sport they loved, and without judgement.
The Steelers have been coached by a female coach, Nic, who also feels prejudice by not being accepted as a coach by her male peers. She is also a senior player in the women’s league and her heart is into treating the Steelers as “normal” people
The common theme from all involved was that feeling of wanting to contribute to something and wanting to belong – and rugby gave them that opportunity.
As for the tournament – you will have to watch this docu-movie to see the outcome when they meet the Aussies again in the final.
“Eammon Ashton-Atkinson’s moving film about his gay rugby
team could not be more relevant”
“Wonderful…both heartwarming, involving, heartbreaking and uplifting.
One of the most engaging, moving documentaries of the year”
The Hollywood News
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