Scrum | Review from Mardi Gras Film Festival
This year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival is now well and truly over, but still a few loose end reviews to post. The first amazing gay movie we reviewed was EVERLASTING LOVE followed by THE GIRL KING and then DOWNRIVER, followed by GIRLS LOST, DEPARTURE and now SCRUM. SCRUM is a day in the life story of the BINGHAM CUP, a biennial international, non-professional, gay rugby union tournament, first held in 2002. It follows the biggest club in the tournament, the Sydney Convicts. You can purchase this 55min documentary to download from HERE, it is a damn fine show and for ratings, it hasn’t officially been rated but I would go with an M rating.
BY JASON KING
The Sydney convicts are Australia’s first gay and inclusive Rugby Union Club, they were founded in 2004 and are the most successful club to have competed in the Bingham Cup, the World Cup of Gay Rugby. They have won the Bingham Cup four times, as well as the Bingham Bowl, Plate and Shield. They have also won their local rugby competition on three occasions.
SCRUM is a low budget documentary that tells an amazing story of diversity and inclusion, it is a definite increase in awesome as the movie progresses and at first I thought it was going to be absolute rubbish but by the end I had fallen in love with it and the exceptional players in the team.
SCRUM completely breaks the mould on stereotypical gays and stereotypical sportsmen. When generally considering what a typical rugby player is I would not think of a gay man, but SCRUM goes to show that being gay has nothing to do with masculinity. The Sydney Convicts are an inclusive team of men, who all happen to be gay. There is an ex- (straight team) rugby player who felt too much discrimination playing for them, there is a Japanese man who moved to Australia, who could not speak fluent English but who has never felt more included in his life with abundant opportunity and the chance to just be who he is.
In this, a movie about a sport’s team of gay men, you start to to notice that to the players “gay” has little meaning to them, they just ARE, while “gay” is not everything to these players it is fundamental on who they have become as people and players. They can be who they are without a label, sure, their team is gay but to them they are rugby players and for this it was marvellous. My level of respect for all these players is phenomenal, and seeing them bare their souls is something that had me tear up a couple of times.
“It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle,” quotes one of the players and just wow, they can have it, their training is hectic, their playing harder. I honestly never thought any team would train this hard, and it is evident how much it pays off, they are basically a machine of a team that is unstoppable, seeing the results towards the end of the movie was great, they are pretty much Australia’s greatest team, you know like all our other teams were in the past, unstoppable :).
And it is this pain and punishment that forges them into the men they are, they truly operate as one unit. Something you don’t normally see and I am not a sporting person, never played team sport, but with so many different personalities in the team it was amazing to see how much support they have for each other. I could imagine some people getting frustrated with Piers on the team, the larger camp bear, absolutely hysterical but not too keen to work overly hard, but they push him and he pushes back and his story and courage really are astounding, it’s that camaraderie of not letting your brothers down, it was superb.
The only scenes in the movie I didn’t like was the filmmakers’ attempts to sexualise the men in the showers, for a documentary it didn’t sit well for me, but this film is not for me, it is for all the people, all the gays and all the straights. It is a movie about people from all different backgrounds that have all faced difficulty being gay in their lives, all seen homophobia and dealt with it, but all the pain from these players’ pasts is healed through the love of the game, the team and their love of the sport. Beautiful film. “It’s not about gay, it’s not about rugby, it’s about an unstoppable team, who happen to be gay.” I should get paid for these quotes!
Best of luck to the Sydney Convicts and well done to director, Poppy Stockell, on a triumphant documentary.
Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).
** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.