Kings Cross Steelers
|Full name||Kings Cross Steelers RFC|
|Founded||1 November 1995|
|Location||West Ham, Newham, London|
|Ground(s)||Memorial Park "Steelers Stadium" (Capacity: 500)|
|League(s)||London 3 Essex|
|2017-18||Promoted from Essex Canterbury Jack 1 (champions)|
|Orleans Former Pupils 1–0 Kings Cross Steelers|
The Kings Cross Steelers are a British rugby team, based in London. Founded in 1995 it was the world's first gay-inclusive rugby union club, and is therefore the oldest such club in the world. Its founding sparked the beginning of a much larger gay inclusive rugby movement which to date includes over 60 gay inclusive rugby clubs across the world.
Foundation and name
The club's name reflects a combination of its geographical roots, and the sporting affiliations of some of its founding members. Geographically, Kings Cross was the area of Central London where the club was founded. Note that since it was not named after the eponymous railway station, there is no apostrophe in the club's name.
The "Steelers" is a homage to the Pittsburgh Steelers, an American football team, of which numerous of the founding members of the Kings Cross Steelers were fans. The Pittsburgh Steelers are so named because Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was, during the decade of that club's founding and renaming, the centre of the American steel industry (and remains the headquarters of U.S. Steel).
Whilst naming sports teams after existing teams is a relatively common phenomenon (for example, the Texan rugby team Dallas Harlequins RFC draws its inspiration from England's more famous Harlequin F.C.), the Kings Cross Steelers are one of the few such sports teams to be named through inspiration from a team which competes in a different sport.
In the summer of 1996 the club joined the Surrey County Union. They played their first game on 21 September 1996, which they lost by 92–10 to Orleans Former Pupils at Strawberry Hill.
In June 1999 the Steelers become full members of the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) and at the same time joined Surrey County League Four.
In August 1999 the Steelers played a match against the newly formed Manchester gay team, the Village Spartans. This was the world's first match between two gay/bi rugby teams. The Steelers won 22-15.
In July 2000 the Steelers took part in the Rugby Sevens competition at the UK Gay Sports Festival held at Waltham Forest. Visiting US team, the Washington Renegades, and the Manchester Village Spartans also fielded teams.
In 2001 the Steelers grew to be large enough to field a second squad. The 2nd XVs played their first match in February.
In June 2002, the club were runners up in the Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament.
In May 2004 the Steelers hosted the 2004 Bingham Cup in Esher.
In February 2007 the club celebrated its first "gay marriage" between two Steelers. The club travelled to Copenhagen for the Union Cup, the biennial tournament for European inclusive rugby clubs in May, winning the cup. In May, the club was promoted to the Essex League 2.
In Dublin in 2008 the Steelers were the tournament runners-up, losing to the Sydney Convicts in the final.
In 2009, the club hosted, and won, the Union Cup.
In 2011, the club successfully defended its Union Cup title in Amsterdam after a final against the Manchester Village Spartans. In the same year, the club won the Hadrian Cup, a yearly tournament held in Newcastle and organised by the Newcastle Ravens.
In May 2013, the club again successfully retained the Union Cup in Bristol after a final against Ireland's Emerald Warriors. The club managed to retain the cup without conceding a single try throughout the tournament.
In 2014 the club travelled to Sydney for the Bingham Cup in August. The club narrowly lost out in the semi-final match.
In May 2015, the Steelers successfully defended the Union Cup.
In May 2016, the club took 4 full teams to the Bingham Cup in Nashville, Tennessee.
April 2017 saw the club take 4 teams to the Union Cup 2017 in Madrid, Spain, with the 1st XV winning the cup for the sixth successive tournament.
As a sports club explicitly founded with the intention of fielding a gay team, the club's players are mostly homosexual, bisexual, and/or transgender. None of the four standing teams currently fielded by the club compete in women's rugby, so there are no lesbians.
Current sporting position
For the 2018/19 season, the Kings Cross Steelers 1st XV play in London 3 Essex with the 2nd XV playing in Merit Table Division 6 (West) and the 3rd XV playing in Merit Table Division 6 (East). Previously the 1st XV have played in Essex 2 & Essex 3, with the promotion to Essex 2 during the 2006/07 season. The 3rd XV entered league rugby for the first time in 2016/17 playing in the Merit Table Division 7.
The 4th XV, primarily made up of new members joining through the club's Pathway to Rugby programme, have played the Turing Cup against other inclusive rugby teams from around the country as well as friendlies between newly-formed teams.
Logo, kit, and sponsorship
The logo is of an elephant in a castle. The logo is based on the crest of the Marquess of Camden, and forms part of the crest of the London Borough of Camden (which covers the Kings Cross area). Or to give it the correct description "On a Wreath of the Colours issuant from a Mural Crown Argent a demi Elephant Sable armed or about the neck a Wreath of Holly fructed proper". The elephant in the club badge is affectionately known as 'Nelly'.
For kit, the 2017/18 jerseys for the Steelers 1st XV and 2nd XV are green and blue striped with gray panels on the sides. The jerseys for the 3rd XV are blue and grey striped, while the jerseys for the 4th XV are salmon and turquoise striped. Shorts and socks in all cases are blue.
As of December 2018 the Kings Cross Steelers are sponsored by, amongst others:
- the law firm Kirkland & Ellis International LLP (who sponsor the kit, and also provide ad hoc pro bono advice);
- 2Brewers, a gay-friendly cabaret bar in Clapham; and
- XXL, a gay nightclub catering primarily to the Bear LGBT subgroup.
- Essex Canterbury Jack 1 champions: 2017-18