Participants who have completed a course based around rugby and focused on social inclusion have graduated.

On Thursday, June 22 the spring/summer participants of School of Hard Knocks in Edinburgh gathered at the Murrayfield Wanderers clubhouse to celebrate their graduation from the eight week course.

School of Hard Knocks is a social inclusion charity running high impact courses using sport and fitness to tackle the issues surrounding unemployment, antisocial behaviour, crime and health.

They have an expert team of coaches and mentors, supported by a wide range of high profile individuals from within and outside sport. A unique programme of challenging activities and values-based lessons enable participants to take positive steps forward in their lives.

Teaching responsibility, motivation, teamwork, respect and discipline allows individuals to take responsibility for their actions and make positive progressions in their lives.

The course uses rugby as a vehicle to teach team work, controlled confrontation, respect. Participants come two days per week and each day spend two hours in the classroom and two hours on the pitch.

This course started on April 25 with 26 locals from Edinburgh entering the Wanderers clubhouse.

As they have now reached the end of the course 10 have moved in to full-time work while 16 participants completing the course in its entirety achieving two SVQs at level 4, in Employability Awards and in Community Achievement Awards.

The participants, who eight weeks earlier had been total strangers and the majority of whom had never touched a rugby ball before, played a full contact match against the Caledonian Thebans.

This was an amazing achievement and the boys put up a real fight! Sadly the more experienced outfit won out on the night.

A few days later the 16 graduates dressed smartly with beaming smiles on their faces  and descended on the Wanderers clubhouse again. This time they were joined by their friends, family, support workers, job centre work coaches and a few SOHK supporters for the evening event which involved a presentation of photos, talks from graduates and an inspiring talk and certificate presentations by Graeme Morrison, formerly of Glasgow Warriors and the Scottish national team.

There was much laughter, a few tears, many an award and lots of sausage rolls! SOHK Team Captain Tommy did an emotional speech – “eight weeks ago I barely had the confidence to hold a conversation with one person, I can’t believe I am standing up talking to a whole room now” – and there was a hugely humble and moving speech from Graeme who told of his time between playing professional rugby and deciding to train as a chartered account.

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