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School of Hard Knocks - rugby

Harrow School Rugby Club started a pilot model partnership with the School of Hard Knocks charity, well-known for the Sky Sports TV series. The School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) for Schools charity is a long-term intervention programme, helping the most at-risk students to complete mainstream education in schools in East London and Hertfordshire. Through weekly mentoring and rugby sessions, the SOHK coaches and staff seek to help students who are at risk of exclusion as they try to learn the story of the life behind the student. Each week, they run one on one mentoring sessions with boys in the programme and run weekly rugby sessions, often introducing a brand-new sport to the students.

Through the values instilled by rugby, the students grow in confidence, begin taking responsibility for their lives and actions and experience the values of teamwork, respect and honesty. In addition, the programme has helped significantly minimise the number of behavioural referrals for the students in the programme.

Harrow’s partnership with SOHK incorporates a number of areas. In 2018, SOHK U14 and U15 rugby teams came to Harrow in November for the first set of fixtures between Harrow’s Yearlings F and Junior Colts E sides against the SOHK boys. It was a brilliant afternoon of rugby and the boys on both sides had a great time, playing two physical encounters. The Harrow Junior Colts side had too much rugby experience for the physical SOHK U15 side. However, it was a different story in the U14 match. The SOHK boys were playing in their first ever rugby match and after a close start, their dynamic and powerful athletes were too much too handle for the valiant Yearlings F side. They were great games, played in superb spirit. It was brilliant to see members of the Harrow 1st XV down to help coach the SOHK boys and cheer them on. Despite the very different backgrounds of all 30 players, rugby brought the boys together.

Moving forward, the partnership between Harrow and SOHK will grow to see members of the 1st XV visiting and coaching at SOHK partnership schools as well as sitting in on mentoring meetings to learn more about child psychology and behavioural management. The same boys will also be embarking on a fundraising campaign next season to help raise enough money to put one boy through the three-year programme. We will be welcoming SOHK for another set of fixtures and looking into facility and equipment sharing opportunities.



The dual aims of the project are to assist SOHK with their stated aims (see above) and to educate Harrovians by broadening horizons and involving them in the important work of SOHK.


The project was started by Head of Rugby, James Melville.


Hosting matches and supplying match teas.


The impact of the work of SOHK is clearly documented. The Harrovians involved in the project have gained a great deal from being involved.

Pupil Involvement

Currently three rugby teams of different ages. Around 60 each from SOHK and Harrow.


One round of matches this season with more to follow.