Harrow School and the School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) charity have this year formed an exciting partnership.
School of Hard Knocks are perhaps best known through the TV program on Sky Sports with former British and Irish Lions Will Greenwood and Scott Quinell, but it is far more wide-ranging than just that it is a charity that uses sport to tackle the issues surrounding unemployment, crime and health.
Founded in 2012, they work with individuals to help them take responsibility and make positive steps forward in their lives. Offering a number of different programmes, each tailored to its audience and principal aims. The SOHK programme is a long-term intervention programme, designed at helping the most at-risk students to complete their mainstream education – this is achieved through weekly mentoring and rugby sessions from the SOHK.
Harrow, of course, are one of the most well-known schools in the country, both on and off the field and this year they enjoyed one of their greatest ever seasons. They went through the entire season unbeaten, finishing third in the Daily Mail Trophy.
The flagship events of the new partnership were two fixtures played on Thursday 17th November, between the School of Hard Knocks U15s and one of Harrow’s U15 sides, and a similar fixture at U14 level, in which a number of the SOHK players were playing in their first ever full match.
The SOHK players were based mainly from schools in Hertford and East London, with The Royal Docks Community School providing a vast number of the players.
Both fixtures were fantastic occasions, and the U14 game in particular ended with a brilliant element as the two teams mixed together, creating some new and entertaining on and off field relationships.
The Harrow 1st XV squad helped to coach the two SOHK teams and are raising money to help fund the programme, the school itself will also be looking to allow the charity to use their outstanding facilities for SOHK summer camps.
Going forward the two plan to fulfil yearly fixtures, with the 1st XV continuing to help with fundraising and coaching, and for the school to share kit and facilities, all the while developing the core values of the sport.
If successful, it is a model that SOHK would explore across the country with top independent schools, a model that could promote and sustain the charity, provide invaluable opportunities to those aided by School of Hard Knocks, and provide fantastic opportunities for pupils in those independent school to step out of their comfort zones and to help those less fortunate through the sport that joins us all in this community.