A group of up to 50 disadvantaged secondary school pupils are discovering how rugby can play a part in realising their potential after The Barbarians Charitable Trust donated £12,000 to launch a new community initiative.

The School of Hard Knocks will use the money to help set up a 38-week programme of physical activity centring around rugby at St Pauls High School in Glasgow, with the aim of boosting pupils’ confidence and communication, and giving them the tools to make a positive next step in life.

The social inclusion charity’s scheme will target the young people who attend the school that are most in need of intervention – predominantly those pupils who receive free school meals and face multiple disadvantages at home.

A project of this type needs £32,000 to run, with the Barbarians making up the £12,000 shortfall required after St Pauls contributed the other £20,000 from their pupil equity funding.

The School of Hard Knocks works with a variety of organisations across the UK to provide programmes of differing lengths to positively influence the futures of disadvantaged children and adults, whether in employment, volunteering or further education.

The programmes use contact sport – mostly rugby – alongside teaching, coaching and mentoring to help participants overcome specific barriers that are holding them back, while improving their self-esteem.

The School of Hard Knocks, which is supported by former Scotland internationals Rory Lawson and Gavin Hastings, uses its 5 Cs framework to measure the positive impact of the courses, with a focus on confidence, communication, commitment, control and cohesion.

“About 20% of our young people are ‘looked after’ and most display significant behavioural issues, with many suffering from low confidence,” said The School of Hard Knocks Programme Director, Rosanne Innes.

“The majority of our young people experience significant problems at home, with the school choosing those who will mot benefit from the values of rugby and our mentoring.

“Without the additional £12,000 that the Barbarians donated, we couldn’t deliver our programme for the full academic year, with the young people taking part only receiving half the intervention and not being able to take part in our end-of-year rugby festival with other schools.”